Bringing Together Birds of a Feather
Written By: Erin Geoghegan
I never really put any time, thought or care towards career-based networking until I turned 30. I guess my career didn’t matter as much to me until then, until I realized that life is long and work is hard, and work is a very big part of that long life that’s just not going to go away. We spend so much time working, why not make the very best of it?
To anyone in or around the world of ad-tech marketing, my story is relatable. I was on a plane back from an industry trade show – one of those grueling 3 days on your feet, chatting with prospective clients, managing everything from booth set-up to staffing – kind of things, and I had a big ‘ah ha’ moment, as cheesy as that sounds. I had arrived at the show on Sunday, a day early, as most marketers do, to help get everything in order before the big opening on Monday. So did about 800 ‘me’s’ from other companies. “I want to know these girls.,” I thought to myself. “I would love to talk to them about their experiences, go over some of my career pain points in hopes for relief, and of course, have fun with people when I’m all alone in Denver, CO on a Sunday night. I’ve got to make this happen.” Enter, M2M.
M2M, standing for ‘Marketers to Marketers,’ is a NYC-based networking group that I worked to create along with a few other women I know from the industry (Natalia Rybicka, Jamie Fishler, and Alicia Mickelson). Our mission is simple – to bring together women in BtoB marketing to develop their industry expertise, skill sets and corporate network in an informal, fun and free environment. Most members are in the ad-tech space which tends to be fast-moving, super competitive and resource-strapped. I personally was the sole marketing person at my company at the time we created the group, and a lot of these women are in that situation as well.
I think anyone, regardless of what field they are in, should join a networking group or two that is relevant to their specific job. As cringe-worthy as the word ‘networking’ may sound to some, if done right it doesn’t feel like that. It feels like entering a support system, a sounding board, a new group of close friends you wish you’d known your whole life.
I find that many networking groups are too broad and just let anyone attend or join – no matter how irrelevant they may be. Or, they turn into an awkward song and dance between sales people who shouldn’t be there and client-side professionals who just want to mingle with folks of their kind. Some of these groups cost a ton of money and don’t give much in return. I’d recommend seeing what’s out there in your line of work but, if nothing looks good, why not just go for it – get one started for yourself and you’ll surely get an immense amount of value out of it.
Here are some tips to get started
Have a clear mission: This is step 1, no matter what. Every minute that you spend on forming, growing and nurturing your network should feed into that one mission in some way. If it doesn’t fit, it’s not worth doing.
Seek out a partner or 2: Finding 1-2 professionals who feel as passionate about your cause as you do will help act as a resource for ideas and advisors surrounding plans for growing your group. Sending them ideas for locations or even drafted email copy for feedback can prove extremely helpful.
Aside from industry friends, vendors in your arena who are willing to act as sponsors are also great allies. Ali Specialties was our first sponsor and, Ali has been such a great supporter of the group and its cause. She was introduced to me by another girl in our industry
Have a digital home base: You’ll need somewhere to direct people to learn more about upcoming events, current members and group updates. Sites like meetup.com are great for acquiring new members as well as communicating with existing ones.
Schedule your first event…asap: It may sound counterintuitive to schedule an event before you have a large group put together but, it’s essential for acquisition to be able to extend an invitation. It’s much easier to do cold outreach when you’re inviting them to something fun and real vs. just asking to…stay in touch, for example.
Don’t give up – grow, grow, grow! It may take a few tries to get it right but, it’s important to keep at it. I believe our second and third meetup only had 6 or so attendees (3 of them being my ‘partners’), we’re now closer to 25 per event. Be honest with members about what you’re trying to do, and what they can do to help get more people interested, and you’re sure to succeed!