Networking for a lot of people can be very scary: what do I say? How ‘salesy’ should I be? Is there pepper in my teeth? Ekk! Well, although I don’t find networking generally to be something uncomfortable or foreign, I definitely was feeling the heat last week while out with our CEO, Stephen Blythe. We had never attended an event together either inside or outside the office, so I was unsure of his style, expectations of the flow on conversation, and so on. The icing on the cake was we not only had one event to attend together, but two. Whoa…pull it together Rayburn!
Mr. Blythe was in Ohio to attend the prestigious, Pillar Awards ceremony presented by Smart Business and Medical Mutual where he received an a 2011 award for his efforts in community service. I had the great opportunity to represent Mr. Blythe on a video that was aired during the awards ceremony, which discussed Blytheco, our philanthropic initiatives, and Stephen’s personal leadership style. I had certainly spent time previously with Stephen, but never any one-on-one time and I’ve definitely never spoken on his behalf.
Thursday was the BIG day. Stephen and I planned to visit one of my favorite clients, Columbus Blue Jackets. As we headed up to the administrative offices, I actually felt good! The meeting went well, and I let Stephen take the lead on the conversation, only chiming in to interject my take on certain product offerings or to keep the mood light. On the car ride back to the office, Mr. Blythe commended me on the meeting stating he was impressed…WHAT!?!? Score!!! Not only did I finally get to meet and assess my business relationship with one of my favorite clients, but I also got to get in good with our CEO! After the work-day we all headed home to get ready for the Pillar Awards that evening, which were taking place at the Statehouse in downtown Columbus, Ohio.
After my onsite visit that day, I was ready to rock-n-roll. Cocktail hour here we come! I tried to meet and chat with as many people as I could, taking Mr. Blythe’s challenge to collect the most business cards of our group. I pulled in eight ( how many did you get, Mr. Blythe? J ), and got a few really solid leads for ERP & CRM projects. Last, but most certainly not least, was the awards ceremony. Blytheco won the Pillar Award for Community Service, as we are heavily involved in the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life (we’ve raised almost $80k already!). Mr. Blythe won the Kent Clapp CEO Leadership Award for creating our amazing culture of giving here at Blytheco, as well his personal charitable endeavors. To present Mr. Blythe with his award, the video I helped create was aired. Talk. About. Nerves…but, it turned out amazing! Both Stephen and many other attendees complimented on how good the video turned out. Now, I’m just waiting for James Cameron’s call…waiting…waiting…waiting…
My day of schmoozin’ with our CEO honestly turned out to be one of the most beneficial and rewarding days of my career thus far. I proved to myself that I could step it up at events such as the Pillar Awards, which was attended by some of the most respected members of my community. So, the next time your CEO or boss invites you to a networking opportunity, don’t be shy. I’m sure they don’t bite. J