Recently the Twin Cities Network of Executive Women (NEW) held a networking luncheon. This group of executives managed to facilitate networking in a huge hotel ballroom, full of more than 500 women (and a few men) working in consumer package goods and related services.

The networking potential began at online registration, back in October, providing registrants the opportunity to review the list of registered attendees and their company names.  The group provided information on the ways to maximize networking with a pre-event email.

The morning of event opened with more networking tips and challenges from the stage:

  • Talk to new people
  • Gain five new business cards today
  • Use the supplied handout to set plans for individual networking meetings/coffees/lunches.

With no chairs in the pre-event space, we had to walk around and meet others. I met a person working on her application to the UST MBA program. I met a 2002 UST MBA alumna and her colleagues. I saw a former student and could endorse her work for an HR recruiter that introduced herself.

The move to the luncheon space involved finding our randomly selected table numbers and meeting the variety of tablemates. (I loved the random table number selections! It dispersed work colleagues who always seem to sit together at workshops and conferences.) Each table also had a randomly selected facilitator and a table topic card. Table members shared opportunities to step up to big challenges in their career path.

The on-stage luncheon panel discussion utilized key questions from the popular book “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg. The panel included top leaders from General Mills, SuperValu, Target and Schwan’s. They shared experiences including:  mentorship vs. sponsorship; fear of self-promotion; management lessons; comparison of career paths to jungle gyms not ladders; and more. A candid, yet well-prepared, group of local leaders.

new_twincitiesI’ve got some new tasks to consider and several new business card contacts for follow-ups for myself and the Opus College of Business. I look forward to the next Twin Cities gathering in spring 2014. You can find the group on Facebook, LinkedIn, or visit www.newonline.org.

Leslie Krona is the program manager for the Master of Business Communication Program.