Posts Tagged With Networking - Musing, Rants & Jumbled Thoughts

Header Photo Credit: Lorenzo Cafaro (Creative Commons Zero License)

My employer, West Monroe Partners, will once again be sponsoring the Chicago Architects Group monthly meeting Tue, July 20th. Chicago has a strong technical community and as I've mentioned before, I'm proud to see WMP support the continued growth and learning of the community at large.

This month's topic is "Architecture And Business Intelligence" by David Leininger. Details and registration can be found at Presentation begins at 5:30pm at the ITA/TexusNexus space in the Loop. Attendance is free thanks to corporate sponsorships, such as West Monroe Partners!

I hope you'll join me there!

Chicago Architects Group was founded on the goal to unit various technical architecture competencies into a community for collaboration and knowledge sharing. The group is for people to meet their peers and share some stories and ideas. Architects and those aspiring to understand technical architecture better will enjoy this group. (text from

For over a year now I've been attending technical user group meetings across the Chicago area and one in particular has caught my interest more than the others. The Chicago Architects Group ("CAG") has consistently provided presentations and discussion on  topics relevant to me and by presenters with experience and knowledge on the subjects at hand.  Presentations has ranged from Dependency Injection & Inversion of Control Containers, to Onion Architecture, to Agile Project Management strategies. And tonight will be Azure for Architects.  All targeted to the technical architect audience, who discuss the topics, share personal experiences and insights.

Shift gears now to one of the reason I enjoy working for West Monroe Partners: WMP has a set of values core to the culture of the company that help make the company a great place to work:

  • A culture of learning and growth
  • The belief that our clients should learn and grow with us
  • The belief that diverse experiences and thought are required to develop a balanced set of knowledge and skills

So now I am happy to be able to bring these two groups together, I believe to the mutual benefit of all: this month West Monroe Partners  will be sponsoring the CAG meeting by funding the food and drinks. And there are plans in place to further sponsor at least two more meetings this year.  So what does this mean?  Well, it means that CAG meets continue to be free to anyone who wants to attend.  It means that people can continue to learn about new skills, new technologies or alternate views on existing skills for the purpose of learning and growing and picking up on the experiences of others.  It's a small way for WMP to help a community group continue to grow and better the larger technical community and I hope it's a pattern that will continue.

And it means I continue to get free pizza -- which helps offset the long commute back to the 'burbs when staying downtown for after-hours meetings. :-)

I spent the last couple hours at another netwoking event. This time it was a group which at least had a common thread: the Chicago chapter of the National Eagle Scout Assoc. After my last attempt at a general networking event I wasn't sure how I'd do (I'm introverted, so struggle rubbing elbows with people I don't know in a social setting). In this case, though, I already had something in common and was much more comfortable after "practicing" my networking skills, and actually had a good time. Even managed to collect a few business cards.

Overall, I'm getting better with the "soft skills" side of the consulting world - something I was very concerned about a year ago when I accepted this position. Practice really does help - so does increased self confidance. Good thing too, since I'm going to be doing a lot more of this in the coming year.

So to my fellow INTJ's out there: you really can do this. Once you break the ice, people open up - which makes it easier to open up yourself. It's amazing how quickly you can find things in common, or at least something interesting about the other person (like the guy who just swam the English channel). Of course, a beer or two can help ;-)

So I suck at business networking. Well, interacting with people can be a struggle for me in any situation.  I know this. Problem is, I'm a consultant now, which means I need to not suck at networking. I'm working on it -- went to a training course, attending networking events and user group meetings, attempting to put myself out there.  This is not easy for me since I am an Introvert (yes, with a capital "I").  But today something happened that reminded me that networking is not just about making new relationships -- it's also (and maybe more importantly) about maintaining the ones you've already got.

I was walking out of the office building today in the middle of Chicago's business district. The sidewalks were filled with hundreds of people out to get lunch. I had been in meetings all morning and was behind on emails, so (not different from usual) had my eyes planted on my iPhone as I waited for traffic to slow to a point I could safely jay-walk across the street to PotBelly's.  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a black SUV pulling over to my side of the street and slowing down with it's window lowered.  At this point, I was no longer glued to my iPhone and was pondering if I should be concerned for my safety.  As the car pulled closer, it became obvious they were pulling up to me until the vehicle stopped right in front of me and the driver became visible.  As the driver began to politely ask if I would mind making a phone call for him (he had left his phone in his office and needed to call someone to bring it down since there's no parking in the area), I realized I knew this person. He was on the IT staff for a client I had recently worked with, although I had only a brief interaction with this man and he obviously didn't immediately recognize me.  I gladly agreed to make the call for him and (re)introduced myself as the number rang.

I could just as easily (or more easily, I think) have just ignored the driver or walked away before they arrived at my feet, but this is one case where I was able to re-establish a connection, however briefly.  And maybe, if this client ever has a need for a consulting firm in the future, my generosity may make a difference. And it was a nice thing to do, which is enough reason on it's own.

Thanks for reading my first blog post.