I have been looking for a networking group for a while.  Sometimes it’s a good idea to get out and meet people instead hiding behind computer all day. After searching for the right one, and procrastinating trying to find the time to go, I finally settled on one that I found on Meetup.com. This morning I went to Small Business Professionals Network or SBPN for short.

I am going to be honest and say that even though I have found networking to be beneficial in my past experiences, the activity has never been particularly enjoyable for me. They are usually awkward and filled with small talk (I completely lack the ability for artificial small talk so this is painful for anyone who has to interact with me). Many of them also require the participants to do a  formal presentation or “commercial”. While, I think the ability to present yourself and your service or product in front of a room full of people is a very desirable skill set, (especially if your ‘commercial” is well executed and succinct), this is again, not one of my strengths. I get nervous with all those people looking at me. I get tongue tied. I usually say something stupid or I ramble.  I much prefer one on one interaction when I feel like I have a genuine connection.  I blame the introvert in me.

When I walked into this particular group,I was a bit early (rare for me), and I was greeted (warmly) by the organizer, Alayna Stiffler.  The first thing I noticed, being the visual person that I am, was the environment. It was nicely decorated, with pleasant colors and inspiring wall art; professional, but inviting. The group meets at ADS Meeting & Training Center which is in the Westwood Office Park in Fredericksburg.  Alayna is the business owner and runs the training center and the group there. I also found out that it is a faith based business (Jesus followers), which was a very pleasant surprise. I felt immediately welcomed and comfortable.

As for the actual meeting, It was structured and organized like a good networking group should be, but had a welcoming air of casualty that other groups often lack. I felt like people cared and were interested and like everyone was on the same page. No egos. No pretense. Just people helping each other grow their businesses. People in the same boat.

I would recommend the group to anything wanting a relaxed, professional networking experience. I am definitely going back. 🙂