You reach into your mailbox and there it is… a notice from your high school alumnae association announcing your next reunion. No matter what year it might be… 5 to 60… the invitation can stir up a myriad of emotions.
Disbelief. Has all that time really passed?
Fear. Have I aged well? How will I look to my classmates?
Insecurity. Have I accomplished enough?
Anxiety. I haven’t kept in touch with most. Will I even have anything to say to those people anymore? Will my old gang even show up?
Image. What in the world do I wear?
All NEGATIVE emotions! But did that stop me? If you know me, you know I always seek out the POSITIVE. New experiences. New memories. So, I sent in my reservation for the big 40th year. And joined the Facebook group to connect with my classmates before the event. (All girls, BTW. Catholic school girls… for an all-girl only event, just like our high school days.)
So, with a brand new stand-out fuschia dress all sucked in by Spanx, I entered the ballroom of smiling women. Glowing, actually. All happy to be there, chatting like happy hummingbirds, flitting from grad to grad. Hugs, laughter, memories gushed all through the hall.
We toasted each other. Danced. Took endless selfies. Shared kids’ photos. We were teenagers all over again. This time, with an immense amount of wisdom, and a renewed zest for life.
So what did I learn that could apply to business and marketing from this experience? Several things:
4. Time flies when you're having fun. If you thought the last five years zoomed quickly, a four hour event whizzes by in an eyelash flutter. Before we knew it, it was last call, the last dance, and lingering hugs, and you didn't even talk to everyone. Make the most of your networking time!
5. Promises are made. "Keep in touch," is the common echo, as the ladies drifted back to their cars and their neighborhoods, with the die-hards posting a flurry of photos and well wishes on Facebook, with vows to stay connected. But how many do? You've got to work the lead if you want to succeed, in business as with friendship.
6. It feels good to reconnect. It’s good for business. Networking is always exhilarating. It gets you out of the office and exposed to people. You never know where your next good lead is coming from. And your next good friendship as well. Yes, good networking is rich for the soul, too.
So, my dear girlfriends from South Philly's Saint Maria Goretti High School, Class of 1977, thanks for all your lessons in life, business tips and most of all, friendship! Happy 40th reunion to you all, and a special thanks to the hard-working organizers who created true networking magic.
Mary Ellen Sokalski
Diva of Direct Marketing.