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Network After Work

On May 19th, I attended the Network After Work event located in downtown Los Angeles. Its main purpose was to bring business minded people together so they could connect and network. This was my first time attending an event of this kind, and I could honestly say that it opened my eyes and I got a sense of how powerful talking to like-minded people could be.

I brought 100 business cards with me to the event and I made about 30 connections. Everybody I came in contact with was nice and embraced me when I told them this was my first networking event.

Days before the event, I was working on my mission statement about what I was going to say to catch people’s attention. When I approached people and introduced myself, I said “Hello… my name is Darryl. Inspirational Speaker and two-time cancer survivor looking to inspire people with my story.”

When I introduced myself to people, I couldn’t finish the whole mission statement because when I said I’m a two-time cancer survivor. 95% of the people I talked to stopped me mid-sentence and said, “Oh my God, congratulations!”

There were a few people at the event who seemed interested in my story, vison and wanted to do whatever they could to help me. For instance, I met a guy who specializes in video and media and he works at the University of Southern California (USC). Another guy I met said my story was relatable and he began to tell me about a family member and the way they dealt with cancer. He also said he may have some connections for me and going to contact me via e-mail.

I met another guy and talked to him for at least 30 minutes, and he gave me a lot of great advice about how to market myself and general advice about how to navigate through life. When I first approached him, I introduced myself and told him I am an Inspirational Speaker and two-time cancer survivor. He couldn’t believe that I ever had cancer, and he told me that I looked so young and thought to himself why is this high school kid here at this event. I laughed and told him I’m going to turn 31 years old next week (May 28th).

He told me that he works close with the Los Angeles School District, and expressed that I have great content with my story. According to him, since I look so young, I could capitalize on that because the school district has speakers who are older that speak to the students, but not many young speakers they could relate to.

The advice he gave me was to market myself heavily on LinkedIn and Facebook. He insisted I should reach out to different school districts on social media websites and let them know I have something special to offer students. I told him that I created a press release and put it on my website. He said I should use that, but tailor it towards who I’m contacting so it won’t seem generic.

He also asked where have a spoken at so far, and I told him just Toastmasters for now. I told him I just finished my sixth speech last week (May 11th). When I said Toastmasters, he told me he just joined Toastmasters in San Gabriel. We talked about how difficult it is to do public speaking, and how nerve racking it is to speak in front of people (he said he recently finished his first speech).

When I made it home, I received an e-mail from one of the connections I made. She said she was impressed with my story and my commitment to helping people. She expressed that she met somebody at the Network After Work event, and she said we should connect because this specific person specializes in helping people tell their unique story. She also said she will look into other connections to help tell my story, which I’m completely thankful for.

I enjoyed my time at the Network After Work event. A lot of people were there, and I feel I made great networking connections. Going to an event like this was out of my comfort zone, but I understand that I have to actually talk to people if I’m serious about getting my story out to the world. Before I left the event, one of the workers told me that they are going to have another event next month, and I think I’m going to attend and make more connections.

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