Keeping Up with the Calligraphers

Cat Goes to a Networking Event

March 27, 2024 Alex Hirsch + Cat Brown Season 1 Episode 9
Keeping Up with the Calligraphers
Cat Goes to a Networking Event
Keeping Up with the Calligraphers
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Show Notes Transcript

In this mini episode, Cat of Cat Lauren Calligraphy shares her experience of going to her first networking event. Join us as Alex and Cat answer: How do you know what networking events to go to? WTF is an elevator pitch? How does an introvert get themselves through a networking event? Do you bring business cards? And some of the other intricacies of attending a networking event solo. 

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Podcast, Keeping Up with the Calligraphers
IG: https://www.instagram.com/keepingupwiththecalligs/

Alex Hirsch, Signs of Our Lives
IG: https://www.instagram.com/signsofourlives/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alex-hirsch-engraves/
Website: https://www.signsofourlives.com/

Cat Brown, Cat Lauren Calligraphy
IG: https://www.instagram.com/catlaurencalligraphy/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/catlaurencalligraphy/
Website: http://www.catlaurencalligraphy.com/

Hey everybody. Welcome back to the Keeping Up With The Calligraphers podcast. I'm Cat of Cat Lauren Calligraphy. And I'm Alex of Signs of Our Lives. And we are here with another mini episode. If you were following along on our Instagram, last week, and when I say last week, we are currently recording this at the end of January.  I went to my first networking event. So I followed Alex's advice from, I think it was episode three. Yikes. If I'm wrong on that, don't quote me. But anyways, we had an episode. We'll link it.


No, absolutely no idea, honestly.


Where we were talking about how to find different events and things like that, or how to market yourself as a live event artist. So I took a lot of Alex's advice and I went to my first networking event. So I posted on the stories so people could see, and I had so many more people than I was expecting one to be following along. So that was really cool. And two people asking a lot of questions.


One, I did not get back around to a lot of those questions on the stories because I was in the field again for my career the next day. But I thought it could make a good mini podcast. So we are going to be here and answering those questions and talking a little bit more about my experience and my thoughts and all of those things.


First and foremost, I'm so proud of you. I know it's really hard, especially for introverted artists, to go out and network and to put yourself out there. I know for me, because I go to a lot of networking events, I'm always like, you know, responded when people hear that I'm a calligrapher, they're like, what? Like, it's just like, I've never met one in the wild. So I'm curious if you got the same reaction.


I did, but I did get a handful of like, what, like you do weddings or like, oh, you make like invitations. And I was like, no, like I do something. I don't want to say way cooler because that is really cool, but that's just like, not what I do. I do something fully different.  and then yeah, having to like, do the elevator pitch that I don't feel like I'm very good about. And like all of that was definitely anxiety inducing for me, but we powered through it and it ended up being a really good event.


I love that. I honestly, depending on who the audience is, I'll be like, I'm not like a regular calligrapher. I'm like a cool calligrapher. Shout out to anyone who, you know, knows what I'm talking about with that's a mean girls reference, which we haven't gone and seen yet. We do need to go see that. And if you just say right now that you saw it already, I'm going to come through the computer. Okay, good. Okay, we still need to see that. Okay, well.


I did not. I would not do that to you.


That's really awesome. And yeah, I think the elevator pitch is like kind of, that's like the hardest thing. And for anyone who doesn't know what an elevator pitch is, it's like something that basically you have to describe what you do in 30 seconds. So the time it takes for you to go up or down an elevator, I guess, I'm not really sure. I guess that's where it came from.


Yeah. Yeah. Like if someone asked you in an elevator, could you tell them what you do by the time the door is open and you have to part ways?


Yeah. Yeah, because we're all in elevators all the time. So you should be ready. Ready for your pitch. That's so funny. I've actually don't think I've ever. Oh my God, that should be like that should be on our bingo card is like give someone an elevator pitch on an elevator.


We'll add it to the next one.


Add it to the next one. Anyways, sorry for being unhinged right now. It's a little late. But yeah, so okay, tell us more about the networking event. A lot of people want to know how did you find the networking event, which I was like, excuse me, people, go listen to our episode about booking events and shit like that. But how did you find this particular networking event?


So I followed your advice and I went and found some Facebook groups that made sense for the type of people that I was trying to market to. So I found some event groups on Facebook and one of the groups posted that they're having this like very epic networking event. So if you saw the networking event was at Universal Studios Hollywood in the new like Super Mario Land. It was in like the lower lot that has where the new Super Mario Land is. So I was like, okay, well, if I'm gonna go big, I might as well go big. Like, this will be my first one then. So yeah, I found the Facebook group. I followed your advice from our podcast episode. And then when they posted it, I just made sure that I was on the list. And then when I like on the email list for when they like open registration. And then when I got the email, I just happened to be like in my email when that happened. So I was able to sign up. So that's how I found it.


That's amazing. Yeah, because the one that you go to, they sell out pretty frequently. Not all networking events are like that or networking groups, I should say. So that was a good choice. Yeah. Getting on the like email subscription thing for people who do them pretty frequently. Yeah. Also, I didn't know about the Mario thing. I thought it was like already established. I've never been to Universal Studios at Disneyland. So I thought this Mario thing was there already, but it's new.


Yeah, it's new. So I think it opened like in the last couple of months, but yeah, it's like a new thing. So that was like part of the draw to it. I, this was also a free networking event. So that also blew my mind because I feel like there's some, depending on like where they are, how big it is, like what they're offering or whatever else. I feel like some of them might be paid.  I anticipated when I signed up that they were going to be like $50, a hundred dollars to like go to this thing that's at a theme park. It was not, it was free, wildly enough. So I had a free day. Well, it was like a park after dark kind of situation because I think it's technically off season for some theme parks right now. So I think they had closed at, I want to say like six or seven and then the networking event started. It was like seven to 10. So it was already closed. And then they just like kept a smaller portion of the park opened.


But yeah, it was a free event there and it was like 400 people. I think I saw a question that was like, was this specific for event vendors? So it was. And I think that was part of it. I think Universal wanted to also show like, hey, we can host like really big gatherings. I know a planner we worked with did a Christmas party for a company at Universal Studios. I think that might've been part of it was like, it truly was like a group of people that are in the event space. So wedding and also corporate and whatever else. So it was specific to event people.


Yeah, I think it goes back to when we chatted a little bit about styled shoots. It's like kind of similar with certain networking groups. Like this one wants to put on an event and the event is for event vendors. But it's like the vendors that are sponsoring the event are showcasing what they do in order to like, that's kind of like their. This is how they're marketing themselves, right? It's like they're providing food or the.


Right. Better than a brochure or an email. It's like all the people that you want to book, you are going to be there. So show them your best stuff kind of thing. And there was, there was like a bunch of different food things that were really cool. There was like a lot of really like cool rentals, like the furniture and stuff like that, that was out and a lot of like photo booth people and stuff like that, that were set up and kind of sponsoring it.  yeah. So it was really, it was really cool.


I did get stuck on like a bunch of rides. I don't know if it was just like, yeah.  yeah. So that kind of cut into my networking time, but so that was what happened. Like when I was on the tram, we were having some like technical difficulties or whatever. So by this, when I got on the tram, so they like picked us up from the top of universal to take you through like the studio tour, which is like one of the really big things for Universal, because obviously it's also a live production studio or like for TV and movies and stuff like that. Like they currently shoot like shows there. They're currently shooting certain movies there. Yeah. So they're all live sound stages. And so the studio tour takes you down to see like all of those things and they have like old sets. So they have like the house from – What is it? The Bates Motel? I can't think of the name. Yeah, so they have like the house and like the Bates Motel itself. And then they have like a little lagoon that has like the shark from Jaws. They have like the Grinch, like Whoville, like parts of Whoville set up so you can kind of like see all of the like behind the scenes and stuff. So that's normally like a 40 minute thing. I was on this tram for like two hours.


Oh gosh, I know what you're talking about, but I can't name it.


And so if you're following on my stories, I like, by the time I got on, I had kind of like hyped myself up and I was like, okay, like they're going to take us. It's going to be like this 40 minutes. And I'm on there with like other event people. Right. So I'm like kind of networking a little bit with like the people I'm sitting by. Yeah. So like I made friends with the people I was sitting by, which was cool.  but then like.


Did you, yeah, did you get to like network with the people? Okay, that's good.


We had just got, we were on this thing for so long. So we are having all these challenges that I just like really started getting in my head because then I was like, Oh my gosh, like this whole event is going on. Cause I was on the last tram. So there was only like a small amount of people. Whereas like the tram right before us that I didn't make it on had like a hundred people on it. So in my head, I, again, I don't know if it was just a story I was telling myself or if it was true is partially true. Um,


I was like, Oh my gosh, there's like this whole networking event happening. And I'm stuck on this tram by the time I get there, people aren't going to want to talk anymore. Like they're just going to want to go on the rides or whatever else. So then I was like really anxious that people were already like, going to be burnt out on networking by the time that I got there. So then I was like, second guessing, like I already don't feel comfortable with like the elevator pitch I have for myself and my business. I don't know. The imposter syndrome really was just taken over. So like my confidence was like,


Every minute the tram was delayed, my confidence was just like dropping, dropping, dropping. And so if you're falling on the stories, that's when I was like, okay, Cat, you've got to like get your shit together. Like we cannot have this energy right now. Like we need to have some bad bitch energy. And so that's when I was like, okay, I'm going to, I'm really competitive. I played sports like all through college. Like I've just always been really competitive. That's how I do best.


Aww, just like waning.


And so I'm best motivated is with a little competition. So that's where I made those little challenges for myself. So the first challenge was, I was like starving was a food and drink challenge. So I was like, anytime I go to a new like food booth or like food vendor and get something, I have to take that food and go and stand at a cocktail table with a different group of people. So I think I had like a meal and then like, two or three different snacks. So then I had to pop around three different groups of people. And then I got like a coffee. Oh yeah, go ahead.


And then question for you. I feel like I know the answer to this, but like someone who maybe has never been to a networking, how do you like join a group? What do you say? Or what did you say, I guess was my question. Like.


I was gonna say, I was like, I don't know if this is what you're supposed to do or not, but...


Yeah, there's no rule. I don't think there's rules to networking events, honestly, but like, what is what was your experience?


Yeah,  I would literally just look for a table that had like an opening for a person. Because if it's like a full thing, I wasn't going to be like, can I wad myself in? Like, that's weird.  well, I would have felt really weird.  so I would look and kind of see if there was maybe like two people standing together where I could like easily walk up or if there was like three people, but there was like an opening for a fourth person. So it kind of like assess for that and then I would just walk up to me like, hey, like, is it okay if I join you guys here while I eat my food or my snack? And I thought that would be a lot harder to transition into like a networking conversation. I had built up this story in my head that like everybody already knew everybody. And so I was the new person like coming in and it would be really weird, but that wasn't the case, thankfully.


It was nice because everyone kind of like had the same script of like, what do you do? Oh, like, you know, like here's my business card. We should follow each other on Instagram. So that made me feel better that like, I had some familiarity of like, okay, this is how the conversation's going to go. And then it was easier to continue the conversation because then I would either have questions about them or more often they would have questions about me, which was really cool. 


So that was a lot easier than I was expecting. I thought it would be a lot harder to break the ice, but it was much easier than I expected. And that was a very, very, very, very welcome surprise.


Yeah, I mean, you're at a networking event, so everyone hopefully is there to network and also there for the same reason that you are. I've definitely been to network events – it's still like LA though. So I didn't know if people were going to be like catty where ike, oh, like, it's a networking event, but we already know each other. We just came to like ride the rides, you know, or like, I didn't know, like, it's still LA. It's not always the most friendly of people there. Yeah, LA could be, it could go either way. But I feel like that's a good group of people. It sounds like there are a lot of people that you've got to connect with. So like who, what type of people did you end up connecting with?


I met, I would say I truly didn't meet a lot of the same things, which was really cool. I, yeah, I really thought I would meet a lot more like photographers, videographers, planners. I met a handful of planners, but they all had very different like niche clientele. I didn't come across anybody that had the same clients, which was really cool, or the same niche. I know.


Love that. Good job planners.


And then I did come across a handful of photographers, but again, like different niches or different like, yeah, I guess like niches. I met a lot of live musicians, which was really cool, or like live performers. Like there was this guy that was like a drummer, but it looked, it was like a very like Cirque du Soleil type situation. I was like, wow, that was like, you're a very talented sir. I know.


I have like a thousand more questions about this. What else? I met a lot of live event agencies, which was really cool. In my head again, I thought, I did not know this was a thing or maybe in my head, like from certain events that I've seen, in my head, I was thinking these type of people have like the talent. I'm using, air quotes. You can't see me on the podcast, but I'm using air quotes around talent. The people that are like aerialists, that are on silks at really, really extravagant events, or the people that walk on stilts are like, things like that. That's what I thought. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's what I assumed that they did, but a lot of them are like, no, we also do those things.


But when they were like, Oh, you're a calligrapher? Like I'm always looking for a calligrapher. I was like, are you? Okay. Like, so that was great because I would have never thought to like reach out to people like that.  cause I was like, I, yeah, when I see the word talent, I think like acting, singing, dancing, like acrobats, like a performer as opposed to like a service, I guess. Like I would classify myself before this, I guess, more as a service. So in my head, I thought they were more like, I am an agent for performers, especially in LA. Again, like in my head, I'm like an Elvis impersonator. Or like, you know, I don't know. I guess that's more Vegas, but like, you know what I mean. But yeah, so I met, I came across a handful of those people. A lot of live music artists, I came across like a caricature artist, so similar but different, so that was cool.


Cool. Yeah. Look at all these artists getting out there. I love that.


And then a lot of like rental companies, florists, things like that. A lot of DJs or like MCs, a lot of companies that do like the build outs or like the draping, like the logistics of like the beautiful things about, yeah, the lighting, that kind of stuff. So a lot, a lot more variety than I thought.


That's awesome. That's a good mix of people. Yeah, well, I mean, I guess I think at an event too, like with 400, 500 people, you're definitely gonna have more of a variety than like a 20, 30 % event or something like that, right? So that would make sense. That's really cool. I love that.


Yeah, for sure. But yeah, so it was, again, maybe there were more duplicate things and I just didn't come across them for whatever reason, but I really didn't come across anybody that I was like, oh, that person over there does the same thing, which I would not say to someone's face, but a thought I would have in my head.

Oh yeah, I hear that. I've done that at networking events when it's like someone talks about something and then someone's talking about something that's like similar. I'm like, oh my gosh, like I did that recently at like some artists meetup. There was someone who needed something and someone who does something. And I was like, wait, oh my gosh, you two should talk. Yeah, yeah, but not like, oh, wait, that's so nice.


That's different, yes. People did that for me, which I was also not shocked about. Like we would like be in a group and someone would walk up and they'd be like, oh, do you need a calligrapher? I'm like, I just met you and you're like recommending me. Like this makes me feel so good. So that was also very positive. It was very positive, honestly. I just was very anxious about, I also just have the personality.


I love that. Wow, power of community. We love that. Oh my God.


I am like an extroverted introvert. Like I can turn it on, but it is so draining to me to have to like, continue to generate that energy over and over again. Like I don't, it does not excite me further.  where that gives some people more energy.  but I, I had in my head that if I let myself get comfortable, I would latch onto whoever the first person was that I felt like I really clicked with and I didn't want to get stuck.


And that's not a bad thing if that happens, but my goal, it didn't align with my goal. My goal was to meet as many people as I possibly could and to be uncomfortable because I don't always get an opportunity to go and do these things. And I was under the impression this was a lot larger of a networking event, which sounds like is accurate.  so I wanted to make sure I got a chance to meet as many people as I could, cause that could be fine if it's like a smaller networking event where there's maybe only like 10, 15, 20 people like that's totally fine. But I was like, no, I want to meet as many people as I can. So it didn't really align with my goals. So that's where again, I added the challenge of like, every time I go on a ride, I want to ride with like a different group of people, because I went with myself and all of these rides are meant to be with like more than one person. And that one was really cool.


Yeah. I think that also helped. Yeah. I think it helped that it was at a theme park because there was like natural things to like redirect to that didn't have to be conversation. So like one of the groups that I joined there, like I didn't get a chance to talk to them too much because they had like finished their food and I had like just started and they were like, Hey, if we wait for you, do you want to go on this ride together? And so like, when there was kind of a low on the conversation, people could be like, Hey, do you want to go on a ride? And then it like, wasn't a weird transition. So I think it was kind of helpful that there were like other things to redirect to, which I don't, that's not obviously always the case. I don't think random networking events always have something like that. Sometimes they do, but not in the same way. Right.


Yeah. So I feel like that also helped. But then again, it was, I was like, okay, like I'm going to challenge myself to ride with a different group of people every time I get on a ride. So then it wasn't again, me being with like the same people the whole night. And then what was the other challenge I gave myself? Oh, to pass out my business card because I brought them all and I have such a bad habit of having them and doing nothing with them. Like,


I just keep them because they're beautiful and I love them. But I forget to like pass them out. So that was more of a like reminder to myself of like, pass these out so people can find you after this conversation. And I got a question I think that was like, do I have a like a physical business card or a digital? I have a physical one. I feel like I'm a calligrapher. I love like tangible things. I love like


beautiful, like stationary paper type thing. So that is a choice that I make for me. It was not like a digital business card, but I think every time I passed out my card, everyone was like, oh, we should follow each other on Instagram. So I feel like that also kind of served as a digital business card in this case. And then we can kind of see one, what everyone else does. And then it is an opportunity to keep in touch after. So.


That is kind of what that looked like.


I love that. So you got all your challenges. Is there anything that you brought other than your business cards?


No, because I knew I was going on the rides.  so I didn't want to bring anything that I had to keep like doing whatever else. So I literally just had like my wallet, my business cards, but they had us, they had like name tags, but they weren't like pre -printed or anything like that. It was just like a handwritten name tags. So I was able to obviously write my name in calligraphy, which I feel like made it like really easy for people to make that connection.


So that was also kind of a little bit of a conversation starter.  or there was like a natural reaction when I was like, Oh, this is what I do. And they're like, Oh, that makes sense. Like with your beautiful name tag.  what else I, two other things that I feel like I maybe did intentionally, maybe didn't, I don't know, but like it brought attention to me that it was helpful because I'm like, people were approaching me for attention. Not for attention, but for conversation. I took a picture of my outfit before and I tagged the group that was hosting the networking event and they ended up reposting, which I feel like a lot of people do, because they want to show like, hey, people are coming, get excited, to kind of build interest as it's getting time to start the event. And then kind of coupled with that, I decided to wear a bright red coat. One, because it's like one of my brand colors. But two, I was like, maybe this will be a conversation starter. And if I feel awkward, maybe someone will come up to me and say something about my jacket. And then I can feel a little bit more comfortable. So that was a very specific style choice. I also had a huge black bow in my hair.


Not surprising.


Which again, I'm like known for bows. So that's like very on brand for me. I had a lot of people complimenting my jacket and my bow.  and so was like very easy for me. Like they'd be like, Oh, like I, you have to be the same girl I saw in the story. Like not everyone here is wearing a red coat or like they would come up and be like, Oh my gosh, your bow is so cute. And I could be like, Oh my gosh, thank you. Like it's part of my whole branding. Like, and it would naturally kind of turn into like, Oh, like that's cool. What do you do? So that helped.


Break the ice a little bit too.


I love that. Yeah, no, that's smart. It's like wearing something that like, you know, someone will be able to compliment that like you feel good in, but also that could be a conversation starter. I love that. That's awesome. So it sounds like you're very intentional about going to this. And I guess the question that we'll maybe conclude with is like, will you go again? Will you try like new groups or is this like kind of your last hurrah? And that was great and goodbye.


I don't want to say it's my last hurrah because I think I should always be looking for the opportunity and it was so successful. I will say I did have three like very qualified leads after this too, which I did not expect, but was very reinforced by. So I will likely do more networking events in the future. I don't think just like any networking event, like I'll probably kind of see which ones one makes sense with my schedule. And to kind of like make sense given what like my goals are for when I'm going to these networking events. I did have, I had somebody at the end of the event message me and they were like, oh my gosh, you were so much fun to hang out with. Like we should go to this other networking event together. Like you're just so good at networking. Like, you know, I have this one coming up. Like would you, do you want to be my plus one? And I was so honored.


I didn't get a chance to make it because I had another meeting for my Kenya trip that day. But I asked her to keep me in mind again because that was really cool. And I was like, hey, I'm making like a genuine friend. This is cool.


That's so sweet! Yeah, oh my gosh, I love that. That's amazing. So it sounds like it was a success and you'll be going back. I love that. So for anyone who is maybe new to networking events, because this was Cat's first networking event, which I honestly, I was worried about. I did not realize that. What were like your top things that you would just make sure people could be like intentional about? Yeah, your takeaways.


Okay, I would say. Pick the networking event wisely. I think not just choosing any networking event because I could see where if I maybe, if I, for example, did like a wedding networking event, not that I don't do wedding work, I'm just very selective about wedding work. I could see where I may, maybe would have felt differently coming out of that just because it doesn't really align with my business or my goals. So be intentional about the type of networking event that you're going to. I think also making a choice in like how you're gonna show up. So whether that is like your mindset, what you're wearing, like your business cards or whatever it is, like show up in the best way that you're able to feel comfortable, feel confident.


And then… It worked for me. I saw a lot of messages that people thought it was a good idea, which makes me feel good.  so I'll share it here.  if you feel like you are not confident or imposter syndromes getting you or whatever else, like I encourage you to find maybe like one or two small challenges that you can kind of have for yourself that pushes you a little bit out of your comfort zone, but it is attainable.  You don't want something so hard. Like I'm going to talk to every single person in the room or something like that, that maybe isn't attainable or achievable just for your comfort level. Yeah. The idea is that you're giving something that you're slightly motivated by that's going to give you a little bit of momentum. So once you get going, kind of your natural self will be able to shine. So it's not meant to be super hard. It's just something to like give you that little extra like push you need in the right direction.


Yeah, talk to like two or three people. Yeah. I love that. Amazing. Thank you for sharing with everyone. And as always, make sure if I know we kind of mentioned the beginning, we do a lot of interacting with everyone in our community, hopefully of Instagram, it's keeping up with the colligs. So find us on there. And that's where we're sharing when we post a new episode and also captured her going to the networking event in the first place.


Make sure that you're subscribed to this podcast on wherever you listen and submit your feedback to us. We want to know what you want to hear more about. We want to know how you're responding, your thoughts on anything that we're talking about, if you have anything to add, and also leave us a review. If you're enjoying hearing us talk and enjoying hearing our tips and everything, make sure that you leave us a review on any of the podcast platforms that you listen to. And thanks for keeping up!


And if you want to reach out to us individually or maybe you found our podcast through Alex and you don't know me or vice versa, or you just stumbled across our podcast and you don't know who either of us are and you want to give us a follow, I am Cat. You can find me at Cat Lauren Calligraphy on Instagram. And I'm Alex, you can find me at Signs of Our Lives on Instagram and all the other social media platforms. And as always, thank you for keeping up.