There is no shortage of events for policy-minded professionals in DC. While some events are clearly designed as networking opportunities, others lend themselves more to catching up and relaxing with people you already know well. But in this town, almost any social gathering can turn into a professional opportunity.
In 2014 I attended the Annual AFF Gala, my first America’s Future Foundation event.
Happy with my job and a bit weary from adjusting to life post-maternity leave, I had planned to reconnect with friends and acquaintances, rather than look for networking opportunities.
Despite the desire to stick to familiar territory, I found myself talking with a variety of people I hadn’t met before. One of these people was Joe Weaver the CTO from the data analytics firm A2 Partners. We quickly found we were working in the same space on some of the same problems, and realized we could fill skill gaps the other had been trying to address. Over the next few months, we met several times and developed a strong foundation for a business partnership.
Nearly a year later, I’m still working with A2 Partners, creating new business opportunities for our respective companies. This fruitful partnership would not have been possible without our chance meeting at the AFF Gala. Remember, some of the best opportunities to connect come when you aren’t actively “networking.”
Erin Norman is the President of Norman Analytics and Research. The 20th Anniversary AFF Conference and Gala is on May 27th.