A Worthwhile Networking Scene Comes to York County
This article was originally published in the March 2018 issue of Rock Hill Reader the Magazine
By: Rebecca Sutton
As the founder of the RHR, I spend a lot of time on social media and getting familiar with people and businesses around Rock Hill so I can help share the story of York County. In trying to learn how to better reach you, our readers, I’ve considered getting involved with various forms of advertising. Asking questions about advertising in a local York County networking group online led to an invitation by Lynn DePolo, one of the masterminds behind WENETYC, to a networking event on how to create an effective Facebook ad so I can reach more folks around the area.
WENETYC stands for Women entrepreneurs Network York County, SC. Their mission is to “provide a positive, supportive, and encouraging environment to women business owners that live, work, or conduct business in York County, S.C.” Well, that’s right up my alley, and it might be for you as well, so I wanted to share my experience in the hopes of encouraging our readers to step out of their comfort zone and into a new experience.
I’m totally not a “networking” person in the traditional sense. As a matter of fact, I got home the day of the event and almost copped out because I didn’t know if I had the energy to be more; more professional, more enthusiastic, more knowledgeable. And essentially, did I have the energy to tolerant the fakeness of “classic networking”, where people stand around shoving their cards at one another while trying to juggle appetizers, cocktails, and handshakes. While all those things were present, too much time spent on LinkedIn just left a bad taste in my mouth. It forced me to assume that networking was essentially LinkedIn in real life: Dry, forced, and awkward with little opportunity to be a real human and enjoy real interactions.
As it turned out the event was really well organized and ended up offering a ton of valuable information that I could actually use. I walked into Taqueria La Unica where the event was being hosted signed in, and got a plethora of WENETYC information (including a free gift) along with a warm welcome. As expected, it was all women, save the guest speaker Karl Schultz from YAC Social and the unsuspecting husband of a makeup artist, who, as it turns out is trying to grow his power washing business.
Sitting down, I was surrounded by excited, chattering women who, despite not knowing each other, were eagerly sharing their stories and what they do for a living. The intimate crowd was diverse and I was taken aback when one woman suddenly turned to me, truly interested, and asked who I was and what I did. My big moment had arrived and I explained: “I am the Rock Hill Reader!” Since our readership is relatively small but growing, a look of faint recognition moved across some faces and I further explained that the RHR is an online digital magazine based in Rock Hill and covers local people, places, and things around York County. I went on, with building confidence from many looks of interest, to explain that I saw the need for a local magazine that really dives into the changes Rock Hill is experiencing; to tell that story in a way that focuses on localism and our community’s people.
Nodding heads of agreement followed and others chimed in with their stories and introductions. I bumbled over the initial hurdle of presentation-style introductions and “elevator speeches”, each one ending with encouraging light applause and could finally breathe easy since the worst of it was over. To my surprise, it really wasn’t bad. One of my goals was to be able to talk about this magazine in a way that engages people and really explains what the drive behind it is. I had succeeded on my first try!I didn’t expect much from the main part of the informational session about Facebook ads, but I knew it would give me at least one or two takeaways. Karl, from YAC did offer some worthwhile takeaways and kindly stuck around after the initial presentation (more of a discussion) to answer questions and offer his expertise as well as advice to attendees. He helped affirm many things I had been thinking of doing with the Rock Hill Reader but was previously too nervous to step out into the unknown with. Karl was real and candid and knew how to talk with us about ads, addressing each of our businesses individually as questions were raised. Overall, the introduction to Facebook ads for local businesses was more pleasant than one would normally expect from a typical dreaded networking event.
The remainder of the evening consisted of bouncing ideas off each other in a helpful and supportive way as we navigated the world of entrepreneurship gathered around our tables. Little did I expect that it would be more fun than stressful. This event was not teeming with scary strangers that I dreaded approaching, but the friendly faces of connections I was about to make. More or less, this was what I would call a non-networking networking opportunity that allowed me to actually contribute and learn something while I met like-minded people who were actually located in York County.
I have had a lot of apprehension about dragging myself to my first networking event in Rock Hill because I assumed so many things like this 1. Are male-dominated 2. Full of Charlotte business people and 3. Don’t amount to much in the way of genuine, lasting connections. However, based on the fact that I was personally invited via social media by a leader of the network and that the group is meant only for women *gasp* in York County, I think I lucked out by being in the right place at the right time to get the opportunity to attend this particular event close to home.Do I think this single event will open up doors that lead to a bright and shiny future of fame and fortune? Not likely. However, I do think this event has helped quell some fears I previously held as truths about marketing myself to others. Knowing that there are people out there that want to help others, not just as a means to an end is really nice. I encourage you to find a local networking event in York County or Rock Hill and see if it offers better results than the go-to events that are always Charlotte-based.
Looking for a new job in Rock Hill? Or maybe you want to attend your first York County networking event outside of LinkedIn like I did? Either way, Rock Hill Reader’s networking checklist is an interactive PDF you can download right now to get prepared for your first networking event in York County!