Networking. It is mandatory in the world of business. Usually it makes for the worst midweek happy hours; a room full of strangers loitering near a bar, everyone anxious to catch the bartender's eye, desperate to have something to hold in their clammy hands.
These crowds always have the same social dynamics. There's the salesman, the guy who boasts about having "been around the networking block a time or two." He takes no issue with chewing your ear about how awesome he is at meeting people and also manages to slip his yearly income into the conversation. The sheepish group of accountants (or IT folk) instantly finds one another and avoids eye contact at all costs. A few bright-eyed new graduates in hot pursuit of a job smile and nod and exaggerate their gamut of skills hoping they are speaking to their future employer.
In general, after a drink or two you walk out feeling assaulted by all the business cards forced into your hands and you spend the next three days fielding calls from the custom postcard woman who thinks you are a prime candidate for whatever deal she is about to cut you.
Enter Spreenkler: Milwaukee's antithesis to standard networking scenes. The group describes itself as a community of thinkers making strides to transform Milwaukee into an epicenter for creativity and alleviate the current brain drain that plagues our fair city.
Spreenkler hosts a networking event the first Wednesday of every month. Several things remain consistent at each meeting. There is always a bar, free Transfer Pizzeria pizza and an awesome presentation. The topics discussed as a group, following a short networking session, focus on creative innovation in Milwaukee. Attendance can vary from 30 to 100 depending on the theme and guest speaker.
More than just an artful orchestration of a speech or two, the energy and caliber of the attendees leaves participants feeling enlightened and inspired. Conversations are genuine. Everyone in attendance brings something of value. At no point do you feel as if you need to prove yourself or your worth to the people encountered. Any exchange of business cards is meaningful and will more than likely be the start of an authentic relationship between the individuals.
The couple hours spent sharing a drink and hashing out a new idea to improve the city is welcomed reprieve from what the present networking scene has to offer and makes for a guaranteed satisfying Wednesday evening.
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