As the clock approached 10:00 A.M. on Tuesday, July 30th the Speed Networking Event at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham- Wynfrey Hotel with over 330 attendees came to a close. Women had purse-full’s of business cards and men were sorting through potential contacts. As the people gathered earlier that morning they filled their coffee cups and politely waited for the event to start. Less than two hours later countless connections were made and potential marketplace opportunities were being discussed.
When Chambers in the local area collaborate for an event there is extra anticipation in the air. Be it a ribbon cutting or an event such as this, it gets the crowd larger and excitement higher. Vestavia Hills didn’t just collaborate with one another Chamber but rather four: Hoover, Homewood, Mountain Brook and Greater Shelby County Chambers all participated in the Speed Networking Event. It was the perfect opportunity for people all across the city to network.
Jessica Henderson, Director of Sales at Hilton Garden Inn-Liberty Park and currently on the Board at Vestavia Hills Chamber couldn’t think of a better way to spend the first two hours of her morning. Henderson explained, “The Speed Networking event took place at the new Hyatt Regency in one of the hotel’s banquet spaces. The event was filled with professionals that were all there for the same reason: to connect. Although 300+ professionals filled the room, the layout was designed to create a more intimate environment. Each circle of chairs hosted 11 seats and each group of 11 people took one minute to introduce themselves and state what their company has to offer. At the ring of the bell, everyone scattered off to a new circle and made more connections. The set-up made the event seamless and effective!” Henderson even explained that it not only helped her on a professional level, but personal too. Professionally, she said she was able to connect with companies who need a place to hold meetings and overnight accommodations. Personally, she was able to connect with Grant & Associate, LLC to help her with home repairs, painting and drywall for her new home with her fiancé. Henderson has worked at Hilton for over five years and with their mission to be “the preeminent global hospitality company- the first choice of guests, team members, and owners alike,” she understands the importance of speed networking. She explains that everyone needs a hotel in some point of life and the Speed Networking Event was a fabulous way to meet people and provide services to them, “Whether I connect with someone who works for a company that has a need for 5,000 room nights each year or an individual who needs a hotel for five days while their home is under repair, it’s business much appreciated and desired.” This was Henderson’s first time being at such a large Speed Networking Event and she said she would most definitely attend again.
Seeing as Jessica has been in the Birmingham area for some time and is more seasoned at the Chamber, we were also eager to get a new member response of the Speed Networking Event. Evan Kidwell, an Account Executive at Costar just joined the Chamber two months ago. Costar conducts expansive, ongoing research to produce and maintain the largest and most comprehensive database of commercial real estate information. Unlike a majority of our members who live and do business in the Birmingham area, Kidwell commutes every week from Washington DC. Because his situation is much different from most, the Speed Networking event was absolutely perfect to promote and market Costar. Kidwell explained, “As a new member I was absolutely impressed with the turnout that the recent speed networking event had. I was able to make a lot of new connections, some of which will be extremely valuable moving forward. I am relatively new to the area as a whole and it was one of the best opportunities I have seen to quickly immerse oneself with lots of new contacts and connections”. He points out that one of his favorite parts of the morning was that he wasn’t consistently networking with the same people, but rather constantly changing circles and meeting new individuals. Although he didn’t meet too many people who would be a good fit for their services, he’s a firm believer that you reap what you sow, “If I give referrals to other people then referrals come my way as well. I am a big fan of providing as much value to individuals even if they aren’t doing business with me.” We are excited that Kidwell has not only joined the Chamber, but quickly taken advantage of all of our services.
*** Special thanks, as always to Deloye Burrell for the wonderful photos!
As we wait another year to collaborate with local Chambers in the area, we can only hope that this year’s Speed Networking Event was a great success for all who attended! We invite you to join us next year!