If you are going to throw a networking event for people in the tech/creative field than you might as well do it right: booze, food, & arcade games. They had all that and more at the Dallas Digital/Dumbo launch party this week. It was such a crazy experience for a someone like me (slightly introvertive husband/father of four who lives in a town surrounded by farms).
Walking up to the venue I could hear the club house music basing it’s way to my rib cage. As I stood in line for our nfc enabled name tags I could see the dance lights reflecting inside and smell the savory aromas from the food truck outside. Seriously, I felt like I was going to an elite high end party in NYC. I also felt like I was going to throw up.
Going ALONE to an event like this to network with people that work in a field that I’m trying to break into was a challenge for my inner shy side. Don’t get me wrong; I LOVE web design and the creative process that surrounds it. However, networking for it is a little more intimidating and I was a little nervous about socially maneuvering through this event. When I finally got inside I found an expansive room with an industrial/techno feel. I took a drink from the bartender (no idea what it was b/c I couldn’t hear above the lyrics to ‘Some Nights’ by Fun.) and slowly made my way through the crowd (emphasis on crowd). When I had circled the room twice I stopped, leaned against a column and tried to catch my breath. I was totally over stimulated. I was trapped at a techno dance party where the music was too loud and I didn’t belong.
This feeling of being overwhelmed is something I get when facing an experience that’s new and unfamiliar. Seems like I’m always doing something that’s new and unfamiliar so I’m starting to get used to it. It’s the same feeling I got when I decided to gut my kitchen down to the studs and start over. I didn’t know a lick about plumbing, renovation, carpentry, etc. One day during a particularly challenging issue I stood looking at faucet fixtures in Home Depot, paralyzed. That’s the same feeling I was having at the techno party. It’s in moments like that when I can feel the facial twitch coming on that I remember two things that save my sanity. First: pushing through fear makes fear go away. Second: whatever challenge is before me I know others have met the same challenges (or bigger) with as few resources as I have (or fewer) and survived (or better).
While I was leaning against the column, still a little dazed from the flashing lights, I met my first networker. A random person came over and introduced themselves to me. It was in that moment I swallowed my fear and pushed through. It was bumpy at first, but after a few seconds my thoughts cleared and I remembered that I was at a networking event and introducing yourself to strangers is what you are supposed to be doing.
I started sharing about myself and each conversation got a little easier than the previous. Pretty soon I felt comfortable enough to untuck my shirt (web designers aren’t supposed to have their shirts tucked in anyways). I even gave out my information to several people electronically via my nfc name tag. I also learned about some pretty cool resources in the Dallas area that have some great community. Here are just a few of them:
- AIGA – A professional organization for Design
- Weld – A co-working facility for creatives
- The DEC – A co-working facility & support resource center for start ups
- 20 Over 20 – A problem solving hackathon where the winner recieves $10,000
On top of that I met some super interesting start up founders, program developers, & web designers. There was such a great community feel with everyone there – people who are eager to hear what you are doing and willing to connect you with resources and other people. Everyone was so accommodating and personable. My voice is still raw from all the shouting, but totally worth it. I’m excited to the next networking event. Maybe I’ll even dance.