Friday, December 12, 2008
Gossip Girl Goes Networking Among DC Marketers
Does anyone get business from networking events? I know I’m notoriously bad about follow-up, unless I see a genuine lead and connection to what I do, but I've been to many so here's a rundown.
First off – the vendors are out in force. Know the economy is bad but where are the potential clients? They only seem to go out if they are seriously worried about their jobs.
All opinions are mine so take it for what it’s worth.
The One Party (A combination of AMA/DC, Ad Club DC and others)
Holiday Party at Eye Bar.
A great big thank you to the advertising business. Haven’t been anywhere for a long time where there were so many good looking young men in one room. And they talk to me - not out of that kind of interest – but because they’re selling services and I’m old enough to be their – well let’s not go there - they think I am a potential client.
Atmosphere – Very New York, sparse with a lot of black and white, table in front like a chic club
Crowd – Young, smart, sophisticated – except for a few stragglers and older men talking to leggy 20-somethings
Food – Pan-Asian and good, but big gap between servings – people cannot exist on just dumplings
ROI – Good, didn’t meet a single potential client, but with alcohol included $62.50 for food and drinks a good buy – higher marks if you count the people watching.
IABC/DC Networking Group Holiday Party
Bar Louie Near Verizon Center
Packed – and I got there late. Stayed about 45 minutes past happy hour time as did many others. Kind of an even split between IABC and DC Networking Group but the latter stuck around longer. Bad idea to pick a place in a super crowded area on a game night. They should have told us to take metro. Parking was a nightmare – by the time I got there was a wreck so had a shot of tequila at the bar. That’s an icebreaker. Many people shopping for business - a lot of financial people and consultants. Did not see either of two IABC DC leaders but I may have missed them.
Atmosphere – Private room which is always good, pricey bar and over worked bartenders
Crowd - Professional, chummy, 40-something plus with a few exceptions, came away thinking DC Networking Group is a good one to join
Food – Pretzels, scary looking spinach dip and quesadillas. Isn’t this supposed to be a holiday party?
ROI – Good, it was only $15 to get in, and there were a ton of people there
IPRA (PRSA Independents) Holiday Lunch
Maggiano’s at Tyson’s Corner, VA
Smaller than I expected, again mostly vendors and independents, sit down lunch with a complimentary glass of wine (thank you for making it festive). Networking was limited to people at your table which was kind of a shame – although there was some time in the beginning to chat before we sat down. Talked mostly with someone from Marketwire – learned a lot about the service which competes with PR Newswire and others. He was very convincing on why it was a better alternative.
Atmosphere – Very festive, private room, for branding it was good image making
Crowd – A hodgepodge of young and old, friendly, many of them knew each other, mostly PR people
Food – At Maggianos you expect an Italian feast and that’s what it was
ROI – For the price it was the best deal in town.
Tabaq Lounge, U St., DC
This group is new to DC and it was their first event although they evidently have chapters all over the country. There was a presentation by a business executive about being environmentally responsible which seemed really self-serving which is why I’m omitting his name. Mostly a networking opportunity but wasn’t sure why I was there. People stayed after because the presentation was long.
Atmosphere – This is a lovely restaurant but we were in the basement. It was a private room but had the feel of someone’s garage.
Crowd – Maybe 30 people with many young, passionate greenies and older consultants shopping for clients. One young woman talked about living in trees to protect them. Met someone who does image consulting – what is that? They teach you how to dress and talk – shouldn’t we have figured that out by now?
Food – None but it came with a free drink
ROI – OK depending on what you were looking for. I probably will not go to another for awhile until it builds momentum.
Capitol Communicators Group
George Washington University
These are monthly luncheons held by a group of PR professionals from Booz Allen (used to be NOAA), Johns Hopkins and NIH in different locations throughout DC. The group is free to join. This particular lunch was billed as a higher education PR lunch and it was – the head of George Washington University’s PR Tracy Schiario spoke and she was very dynamic. I had never thought about the fact that in the nation’s capitol she has to deal with world leaders, rock stars, etc. as well as construction accidents as well as keeping university president and academics happy.
Usually this group has several speakers who say very little. This one was much better and Tracy had more time.
Atmosphere – Small group, private room, very simple
Crowd – Maybe 30 people, it was more expensive than their usual lunches which run around $20, probably because they had to pay for the room. Other events are much more crowded.
Food – Yuck – they must have gotten it from the university cafeteria and for awhile they were out of silverware and anything green. Diet Coke went fast. Had to eat gooey, tasteless lasagna and drink the original Coke or starve.
ROI – For me good because I work in education but many could and did skip it.
MENG (Marketing Executives International Group)
I was a guest in this group of people who have to meet a salary requirement of $160,000 plus a year to join. Not sure how they verify this but maybe they self select. These are very senior people who know their stuff. Emilio Pardo – head of branding at AARP spoke. (There’s a blog post here on his talk). Many smart people in the room – you could tell by the level of sophistication of the questions they asked. Well attended – 40-50 people. Met a man who markets high end boats – yes he needs marketing advice right now.
Atmosphere – Very corporate, a U-shaped table, tiny space for networking. AARP has that big corporation feel to it – moneyed, huge and long beautiful corridors
Crowd – A lot of gray hair in the room – I felt young which is rare
Food – Someone went to Costco before I think – those wrap sandwiches they sell and a salad with cafeteria looking dressing
ROI – It was under $20 and well worth it – almost all senior marketing executives with big jobs. Should have stayed after talk but it was a long day. They invited me back which is good.