Last Thursday there was a a studio open house that took place in Raleigh, where 16 design agencies in the area opened their doors for people to come see their work, get a feel for the actual space, and network with all sorts of people in the marketing and advertising industry. As a free event, it was a great opportunity to get out there, meet new people and try to make a name for yourself. As I met up with a few former studio mates, with business cards and resumés in hand, I felt like I was ready to network.

The guest list online was hundreds of people long, but I figured since it wasn’t all in one place, it wouldn’t be so bad. Yeah..I was wrong. Even with only about 20 people in one studio, it was still pretty intimidating to strike up a conversation, not to mention try to stand out.

The first studio was pretty rough, it was obvious I didn’t really have my thoughts in order, and wasn’t quite yet comfortable in the setting. I guess it was actually really obvious since one of the employees of the first studio came up and gave advice on how to start conversations, network, and “fit in” better. Thanks for the subtle hint!

I knew I could do better, and I knew I just needed to get over any hesitant thoughts and just go for it. We went to about 3 or 4 more studios, and I could definitely feel myself being more outgoing, and making better use of this opportunity. After swapping a few resumés and business cards, I was feeling good about the new relationships I’d initiated, and the potential opportunities that might come of them.

But through all of the awkward introductions, small-talk, and quick exchange of business cards, there’s still the thought “Did I make a lasting impression on them?” Yes, I might have gotten an “in” because I talked to them for more than 5 minutes, or they seemed interested in getting my information, but they probably did that to hundreds of other people too.

There were plenty of qualified and talented people that walked through the same studio doors as I did that night, so it makes me wonder if I did enough to leave an impression.

What about me, or what about what I said to that person, stands out above the rest?
What did I need to do to ensure they would remember me the next day, or even next month?

I’m not the only one that left behind a business card, or followed up the next day with an email. There needed to be something else that I could have done, but what?

This was not something I had thought of before Thursday obviously, and I wish I had. But it’s definitely something I’ll figure out for next time.