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Networking at Events: Tips from a Day at Bluecork Vineyard & Winery

Confident modern woman enjoying wine at Bluecork Vineyard & Winery, wearing a stylish pink off-the-shoulder dress, showcasing a friendly and fashionable appearance in a rustic winery setting.

In a world increasingly connected by digital threads, the value of face-to-face interaction and genuine community often gets overshadowed. Yet, nothing replaces the warmth of a handshake or the immediate connection felt when sharing a laugh with someone new. For those of us who have faced the challenge of rebuilding our social circles, whether due to a move, a career change, or unprecedented global events, the task of finding 'your people' can seem daunting.

Eight years in Los Angeles had me woven tightly into a vibrant tapestry of professionals and creatives. But returning to the East Coast amidst the pandemic meant starting from scratch. It was like being a newcomer in my own hometown. The landscape had changed, and so had I. It was here, in this reinvention of my social world, that I discovered the immense power of local events in grounding oneself in a new yet familiar community. My recent experience at an event hosted by Kabila Events at the scenic Bluecork Vineyard & Winery in Williamstown, NJ, not only enriched my network but also reaffirmed the age-old adage: to find your tribe, you must first step into the village.

Event Highlight: Bluecork Vineyard & Winery

On a crisp afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending an exquisite installment of the Wine Culture Series hosted by Kabila Events at Bluecork Vineyard & Winery. The event's backdrop was nothing short of enchanting, set in a venue that exuded class and a grown and sexy vibe, resonating deeply with my personal aesthetic. Kabila Events, a commendable venture founded by a dynamic Black woman, specializes in crafting interactive social and cultural experiences designed to connect diverse audiences. Their focus on inclusivity and rich engagement is a beacon for those seeking to broaden their social and professional networks.

The attendees were a vibrant tapestry of fashionable, fun, and friendly individuals, their spirits lifted undoubtedly by the open wine bar which facilitated easy conversations and a relaxed atmosphere. The highlight for me, and undoubtedly for many others, was the 'Cocktails and Conversations' segment. This part of the event was ingeniously hosted by another woman-owned event company. We gathered in small, intimate groups where we explored profound questions about love and life, sharing stories and insights that bridged the gaps between strangers.

This gathering was not just an event; it was a manifestation of my ongoing 'Cocooning Season Strategy.' This strategy is focused on enveloping myself within a network of like-minded women, those who are eager to foster both personal and professional connections. The event at Bluecork Vineyard & Winery offered just the right mix of sophistication and warmth, making it a perfect setting for nurturing new relationships and strengthening my community ties.

The Importance of Local Events in Building Your Tribe

Local events serve as the heartbeat of community engagement. They provide a unique platform where individuals can meet face-to-face, share experiences, and grow together both personally and professionally. As I've navigated my own journey of reconnecting and rebuilding my community post-move, I've found these gatherings not only refreshing but essential.

Fostering a Sense of Belonging: Events like the Wine Culture Series by Kabila Events remind us that we're part of a larger narrative—one that is diverse, dynamic, and deeply interconnected. They offer a space where we can celebrate our individuality while embracing our collective identity. For anyone returning to a familiar place or venturing into new territory, these events can be a lifeline, providing the social grounding necessary to feel at home.

Cole Woods, dressed in an elegant pink off-shoulder dress, posing with another woman in a stylish striped suit at an outdoor event, with a painting of a woman surrounded by grapevines on display.

Professional Networking with a Personal Touch: While digital platforms are excellent for reaching out to new contacts, nothing compares to the immediate rapport and enduring connections made through in-person interactions. Local events enable you to present your authentic self, which is often more compelling and relatable than any online profile could convey.

Access to Diverse Perspectives: These gatherings are a melting pot of ideas, cultures, and industries. Each event is an opportunity to learn something new, gain different perspectives, or even discover emerging trends and opportunities that could influence your own projects or business strategies.

Building Lasting Connections: The informal yet engaging environment of local events encourages more open and meaningful conversations. It's easier to find common ground, discuss mutual interests, and form bonds that go beyond a simple exchange of business cards. These are the connections that tend to last and can even evolve into collaborations, partnerships, or strong friendships.

Supporting Local Businesses and Initiatives: Attending local events also means supporting local entrepreneurs and businesses, like Kabila Events, which thrive on community engagement. By participating, you contribute to the local economy and encourage a thriving cultural scene, which in turn enriches everyone’s experience of the community.

In conclusion, the power of local events in building and strengthening your network cannot be overstated. They are a vital tool for anyone looking to grow their community ties, whether you're settling back into a hometown or branching out into new territories.

Actionable Networking Tips for Modern Women

Effective networking is not just about attending events; it's about making each interaction count. Here are some strategic tips that can help modern women navigate networking opportunities to their fullest potential:

1. Research Local Event Planners and Groups

  • Begin by identifying event planners and groups that resonate with your interests and values. Websites, social media platforms, and local community boards are excellent resources for discovering events.

  • Subscribe to newsletters and follow these organizations on social media to stay updated on upcoming events that cater to diverse audiences.

2. Setting Networking Goals

  • Before attending an event, clearly define what you want to achieve. Whether it's making new friends, finding potential business partners, or learning about a specific industry, having clear goals will guide your interactions.

  • Consider what you can offer to others, not just what you want to gain. Networking is a two-way street, and mutual benefit strengthens connections.

3. Making the Most Out of Every Event

  • Arrive prepared with your business cards, a ready introduction, and some talking points about current trends or news related to the event theme.

  • Engage actively by participating in discussions and activities. This shows your interest and can make you more memorable to others.

  • Be genuinely interested in what others have to say. Ask open-ended questions that encourage dialogue and show that you are listening.

4. Following Up After Events

  • Prompt follow-up is key. Send a note or an email thanking new acquaintances for their time and mentioning something specific you discussed to jog their memory.

  • Use LinkedIn or other professional networks to connect online, but personalize your connection requests with a note about where you met.

5. Utilize Smart Tools for Effective Networking

  • Incorporating the right tools into your networking strategy can significantly enhance your effectiveness. That's why I designed the 'Cocooning Season Digital Planner,' specifically tailored for the tech-savvy individuals who prefer to keep their life and contacts organized digitally. Available for the iPad, this planner is not just about keeping dates; it's designed to help you extend your 'Cocooning Season' throughout the year, ensuring you stay on track with your goals and continue striving for greatness in all aspects of life.

  • Whether you're scheduling follow-ups after a networking event, planning your next community-building endeavor, or reflecting on personal and professional growth, this planner is an essential tool for anyone serious about making meaningful connections. By seamlessly integrating your goals with your daily plans, the Cocooning Season Digital Planner turns every interaction into an opportunity for personal and professional development.

By implementing these tips, you can transform every networking opportunity into a stepping stone toward achieving your personal and professional goals. Remember, effective networking is about quality connections, not just quantity. Each event is a chance to expand your network in meaningful ways.

Personal Insights and Encouragements

Embarking on the journey of rebuilding a local network after years of establishing one in a bustling city like Los Angeles was daunting. In L.A., networking was second nature to me, almost like breathing—the cornerstone of my success in such a dynamic environment. But transitioning to the quieter, more suburban settings of the East Coast left me feeling isolated, a stark contrast to the vibrant connections I had known.

For a long time, the thought of stepping out into new social circles was overwhelming. Despite knowing the importance of networking, the inertia of solitude was comforting yet confining. It wasn't until I made a conscious decision to break through my own barriers—stepping out of my comfort zone and being intentional about my social engagements—that I truly began to connect.

Cole Woods in a flowing pink dress standing confidently in a vineyard, accessorized with sunglasses and a chic white purse, embodying elegance amidst rows of grapevines.

I remember the mix of nerves and excitement as I attended my first local event after such a long hiatus. It felt like a big leap, but one I was ready to take. And now, looking back, I realize that it was one of the best decisions I could have made. Each conversation, each shared laugh, and each new connection helped me rediscover my confidence and reaffirm my ability to thrive in new environments. The experience was a reminder that stepping out, although scary at first, is almost always worthwhile.

I'm thrilled to say that the butterfly has officially emerged from her chrysalis. This transformation was not just about attending an event; it was about reclaiming my place in a community and rediscovering the vibrant social butterfly I had always been. To anyone feeling hesitant or unsure about stepping into a new circle, let my journey inspire you. Yes, it might be intimidating at first, but the richness of connection and the joy of rediscovery are infinitely rewarding.

Remember, every great journey begins with a simple step. Let your next step be toward an event that piques your interest. You might just find that in the sea of unknown faces, there are friendships waiting to be made and opportunities waiting to be seized. The world is your oyster, and your network is the pearl.

Navigating the world of networking and community building can feel like a daunting journey, especially when you're starting anew or reestablishing yourself in a familiar yet changed environment. However, as I've shared through my experiences and the practical tips provided, the rewards of stepping out and connecting with others are immeasurable. Whether it’s the warmth of new friendships, the thrill of professional collaborations, or the simple joy of sharing experiences, each event you attend can be a gateway to enriching your personal and professional life.

Close-up of a hand holding a wine glass with Blue Cork Winery & Vineyard logo, filled with red wine, with lush vineyard rows in the background, showcasing a wine tasting experience.

Networking isn't just about expanding your social circle; it's about weaving a tapestry of connections that support and inspire you throughout various seasons of your life. With the right approach and tools, like the 'Cocooning Season Digital Planner', you can transform any networking opportunity into a fruitful endeavor.

I encourage each of you to embrace the possibilities that come with building your community. Start by marking your calendar for the next local event that catches your eye. Take a small step today, and who knows where it might lead you?

Have you attended a networking event recently? What was your experience? Share your stories in the comments below, or connect with me on social media. Let’s continue the conversation and inspire each other to keep reaching out, stepping up, and building the vibrant communities we all deserve to be part of.

Remember, every connection made is a step towards a more fulfilling personal and professional life. Let’s make those connections count!


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