How to increase blood-pressure and meet new people.

Someone once said to always do something which scares you. 

I'm scared of many things.  Balled up bits of paper, slugs, frogs, exams, sun-dried tomatoes for example.  Organising an event for me; is beyond fear... it's the very probably possibility of publicly falling on your ass and the self-doubt which follows the humiliation.  I've just last week hosted a public event in the name of art.  It scared the be-jesus out of me, and it still does, but isn't it funny what one will do for what they love?

I blindly found myself acting as a secretary for a volunteering sector in the Ouseburn valley a few months ago.  Thats a small area in Newcastle, with a very concentrated community of artists and creative people.  Its beautiful and has so much to boast; and yet, its quite insular.  In some sort of moment of sheer madness, I volunteered myself to run a networking event for all of the like-minded people.  And heres the recipe for what (thank the Lord) turned into a very successful night.


1. NEVER refer to a networking event as a networking event.  Its an instant way to put people off.  Networking conjures up images of men in suits, shaking hands and talking in mono-tones voices about stats and printer inks.  Think of a FUN and FRESH name.  I went with SCHMOOZE. Say it. Go on.  Its just nice to say.

2.  People stick in their groups.  Its not often someone comes along who will approach a stranger and start having a chat. And lets me fair, if they did, we would probably dismiss them as odd.  This is why networking is probably doomed to fail, without some organisation and a good concept.  Enter brainwave number two.  The SPEED-SCHMOOZE.  Speed-dating meets networking.  Genius.

3. Find a venue. Design a poster. Publicise.  *It might be handy to have some computer skills at this point.  I don't recommend making the poster by hand and spelling the title wrong, twice.  TWICE.

4. Plan in advance and stick to it.  This is much better than realising late the night before that your plan is ultimately floored as traditional speed-dating only means half of the people actually meet, i.e. the men and the women.  This may result in detailed floor plans, colour and number assignment and a small panic attack.

5. Find a buddy.  Someone who makes you calm and is good at brewing tea.  A collaborative arty partner is fabulous for this.  This tip is especially helpful if you have organisation-phobia like myself.

6. Revel in your success when people turn up and you realise that there was some sense in your original plan.  Thank everyone profusely, especially the people who you near-drove insane.  Collapse.


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