Networking SOULpreneurs’ Style

 In Blog

Networking isn’t always work. Sometimes it’s downright soulful.

I am one of those oddballs who—after scurrying to get there and settling in—feels right at home at various chamber gatherings and other networking events. I’m often one of the last people to leave, in fact, along with my colleagues Ruth Griggs and Maureen Scanlon in The Creative.

But last week, I went to a networking event like no other. It was put on in partnership by Val Nelson, a business and life coach, and photographer Tracey Eller in Tracey’s photography studio at Eastworks in Easthampton, Massachusetts. Tracey cooked incredible, healthy fare—gluten free, dairy free and meatless—and the group of roughly 30 was predominantly women. Three brave men also joined us.

The evening was billed as a SOULpreneur’s Dinner Gathering. Val said the idea was to bring some of her clients and colleagues together for networking, highlight her Introvert SOULpreneur group programs, and feature Tracey’s photography services. I am a client of Val’s, so that was my “in.”

My evite read, “Think of this as a heart-centered alternative to networking, where you can make meaningful connections with kindred spirits over some nourishing yummy food. I’ll provide a touch of introvert-friendly structure to make it easy to meet each other.”

In her coaching work, Val stresses the importance of leading from the heart. She and Tracey followed their own hearts in putting on the dinner gathering, which was indeed soulful.

Those who gathered talked not only about their work but also their lives, loves, goals, passions and projects. It was fabulous. There was room for people to admit they were nervous, to squeal a little and talk about some of the ways we get derailed.

“This is the best networking gathering ever,” one web developer said. “No one is talking about the weather.”

Having the utmost respect for Val, I knew I would enjoy the evening and even altered my standing Wednesday evening overnight date with my grandson to be able to take part. I looked forward to it the way no one looks forward to networking. I heard others did too.

I met Liz Bedell, the woman who is leading the writing group I just joined. I met other coaches and other writers and editors. I met a woman who grows fresh and fabulous greens in Ashfield, Massachusetts; an accountant from Brattleboro, Vermont, who works with health practitioners and other service providers; and a chiropractor and biodynamic craniosacral therapist in Northampton, Massachusetts.

And I got to spend time with Val and a few other people I already knew and collaborate with— Amber Ladley, Carey Baker (one of our token males) and Kara Martin Snyder.

What a great night. Thank you Val and Tracey.

Val has told me she was convinced that this has to happen again but hasn’t made any specific plans yet. I’ve let her know to invite me when it’s time to network with our hearts and souls again, and I’ll be there.

The lesson here is that networking can be for anyone. Find the networking platform that works for you.

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  • Reply

    I just found this piece again and it brought such a smile remembering that evening. Thank you for writing it up! And for being part of what made it such a warm and soulful event.

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