Thursday, March 24, 2011

I joined the Speednetworking Event.

The idea was hatched at an FGI Board of Directors meeting and quickly took shape. Based on the everpopular speed dating format, an event was planned wherein FGI members could sign up to “speed network” with a group of senior level executives who sit on the FGI Board.
In brief, round‐robin conversations, the Board members would offer advice, guidance and real time
business intelligence on career advancement, job search and business start ups.
In a heartbeat, Board members Kate Greene, Givaudan’s marketing VP, and Caroline Pieper Vogt, CEO of Fusion Brands, stepped up to organize and co‐chair the event, while fellow Board member, Jacqui Wenzel, made arrangements for the venue – the Ports 61 showroom – as well as for the wine and nibbles.
And here’s how it went. On the brutally cold and blustery evening of January 19th, the FGI staff convened at the showroom where they set up tables and chairs, took their places at check‐in and welcomed the Board members who had so generously volunteered their time, expertise and experience. On deck, along with Kate, Caroline and Jacqui, were James D’Adamo, Hearst Integrated Media, Self Magazine’s Laura McEwen, Donegar Group’s Fashion director, Roseanne Morrison, Denise Seegal, Nancy Cardone, publisher of Marie Claire, and Deborah Patton of Applied Brilliance.
Once checked in, attendees picked up their name tags, enjoyed a glass of wine, a nibble or two and
chatted each other up before taking seats at tables, each table manned by two Board members.
FGI president, Margaret Hayes, started the proceedings by saying that “with the current economic
situation and job concerns…we see this event as a true added value to membership.” Greene and
Pieper‐Vogt then explained how, at the sound of the bell, attendees were to progress from one Board member to the next for a series of six‐minute, mini‐meetings; rather like musical chairs.
During the six sessions, the 35 attendees took full advantage of this invaluable opportunity to talk about their key strengths, career paths and goals, to ask questions about industry trends and to grill Board members about their current responsibilities, the challenges and rewards of their positions and how they prepared for and broke into their fields of endeavor.
Here’s what some of the Board members – and the attendees – had to say. James D’Adamo remarked that, while the idea was for the “networkers” to meet the Board, he, in fact, became acquainted with a woman who represents certain luxury goods for the French government; a valuable new business connection for him. “I’d like to see it repeated,” he said. Networker, Regina Kravitz, noted that “it has great possibilities; lively and fun,” and went on to suggest that, at future events, all participants speak to five to eight people they hadn’t previously met and pass cards to everyone. And, further, it might be useful to e‐mail the ‘rules of the game’ to attendees in advance of the event. And, while designer Stacy Lomman had hoped to connect with more members of the Board than she actually did, she said that, in theory, it’s a great idea and, going forward, can prove to be a positive and helpful industry program.
Brigitte Schwenner, also a designer, found that each Board member was there to help and said that
going to the event turned out to be the best possible use of her time…even though it was her birthday and summed it up this way: “open mind meets open mind, that’s all I can say.” And we couldn’t agree more.
Text by Wendy D'Amico for the Fashion Group International
twitter: fginyc

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