I am a member of  inHouston – Premier Professional Business Networking. I have been part of the Ning, fan of the Facebook page and a member on the LinkedIn group for several months. There are a list of “Community Rules” listed on the Ning that are very easy to follow:

  1. Practice the “Golden Trifecta” – be appreciative, courteous, and respectful.
  2. Extend a warm welcome to new members – a helpful and welcoming community benefits everyone.
  3. Don’t hesitate to ask for help or perspective – we’re here to learn together.
  4. Keep the signal-to-noise ratio high: please refrain from posting off-topic messages.

After listening and learning online I decided it was time to venture into the real world and meet some of the members. So I attended my first  network meeting called The UpTown Mixer. It is held once a month at the Tasting Room UpTown Park and attended by 300+ people. inHouston was founded by Eric Standlee. Eric is the ultimate connector! If you Google his name you will find pages of information. To say he has a digital presence is an understatement. He also has a strong reputation within the group and is very well-respected.

At first it was a little overwhelming to attend a network meeting where there are 100s of people! What I quickly learned is there is a networking pay it forward etiquette (servant leadership) used by members!

  1. Extend a warm welcome with a firm handshake when meeting someone.
  2. Exchange business cards and learn as much as possible about the member.
  3. Immediately introduce new members to someone within the group.
  4. Use servant leadership – give and it will always come back to you. Ask what can I do for you? Who can I introduce you to?

I received invitations to connect on LinkedIn immediately following the Mixer. I also received emails from individuals that I briefly met asking me “how can I help you, what is the perfect connection for you?” 

Most of the members I met were using LinkedIn exclusively and didn’t see a reason to engage with Twitter. Then I met Michele Price, The Breakthrough Specialist. We immediately connected and she looked so familiar to me but I couldn’t  pin point how. I learned that we don’t live near one another, I’ve never attended a Mixer before and I wasn’t familiar with her business. She said she used Twitter and as soon as she told me her Twitter handler was ProsperityGal it all came rushing in! We were following each other on Twitter and just days before she was kind to message me that I had a broken link in a tweet. I recognized her from her Twitter profile but didn’t put “Michele” to “ProsperityGal”!

Networking online is beneficial but meeting followers IRL (in real life) is amazing!  I am excited to attend as many of the Mixers as I can and practice “servant leadership”.