Green Rascal Design

 
 
Recently, not too recently, I was at a networking event at a little place called Fabio and Danny's Station Cafe. This was their first networking event, I believe. And I was an hour early (oops!). And I should mention this was their Wayne PA location, not their other one - which they're having lunchtime events at but I don't remember what town it is or when since I can't make those.

By day the Station Cafe is exactly what you'd expect, a train station cafe. They have sandwiches and coffee and pop and all the other things you might want on your daily rail commute. That particular Friday evening, however, it had a musical event and us networking too. Well, we tried networking. I saw some of my network and attempted to add to it, but it was difficult.

The music was good. I can't really comment because it was acoustic and not really my thing at all. But the kids had real talent and lots of people were really into the tunes. It didn't make for good networking because it felt rude to talk while they were singing, and for a good portion of the time we wouldn't have been able to hear each other well enough anyway.

We ended up sitting at a table, which made networking nearly impossible. But this was a highly unusual event already, so just went with it. I mean, by this point I think it was more just hanging out with friends than networking.

The cafe would be a good networking venue, but I do have some suggestions. Mostly the acoustics need attention. I'm not sure what they can do, considering this is a small family owned business, and I'm guessing they don't have a lot of discretionary income to make capital improvements. But something soft would help. I'm not sure if a rug is okay to have in such a public place. It might not meet code, or might need to be nailed down, which would probably not be fun to clean. They have art on the walls. Maybe more of that would help. Perhaps hang more soft art, like tapestries or t-shirts for sale or something. The ceiling is very high, and if they can find a way to hang something soft up there that would undoubtedly help.

Besides the acoustics, the layout is good. The cafe is divided up into the business end and the sitting end. I could see networking events taking place more in the seating area, where there aren't any fridges or counters, etc. As it was, that's where the band was situated... So I guess that proves it works spatially. Since this place doesn't serve alcohol, or at least it didn't when I was there, there wasn't any kind of mad crush at the bar. They served coffee, but on a Friday night I'm not sure how popular it was.

I have to say though, that the owners there are incredibly nice and respectful. They let me in an hour early, for crying out loud. I will attend more events there in the future once this new networking group gets rolling.
 
 
It's incredibly difficult to get anybody to come out and network in the summer. Don't you agree?

For one thing, it's hot. And nobody wants to go hang out in center city in 90 degree heat if they're not used to it.

Bless those who live there. I don't know how they do it.

We had pretty good success getting people out to our 422 ARCH networking event on June 12th, but traffic was a mess and that was in the SUBURBS! I can tell you that's the only networking event I remember attending since June began. (and that was my own event, haha)

Not every group is taking a break like we are at 422 ARCH. The Who'ja networking group has like 3 events scheduled for each week. It's tempting, but at the end of the day I just do not feel like hauling my butt out there. Maybe I have senioritis.

So this summer, I don't know if things will pick up as far as attending more networking events next month. It's hard enough convincing my loving mother in law to come over on a Saturday afternoon for a small party.

Forget trying to gather a big crowd. Be happy with a small gathering until vacation season is over. That's just my two cents.
 
 
I've been contemplating doing venue reviews for a while now, and wanted to start the series off with a place I feel pretty strongly about. The Field House, for those not in Philadelphia, is a popular bar in a very convenient spot next to the convention center downtown. It's also a horrible place for a networking event. Architecturally speaking, of course.

First are the acoustics. There aren't any soft surfaces in the whole place, so there is nothing to absorb all the sound of a networking event, much less the raucous sport-watching regulars around the bar. The ceilings are very high on the main level, and it's an industrial building. So the chatter bounces all around up there and comes back down as incomprehensible noise. Upstairs, where the actual networking events are held (at least the ones I've been to), there aren't any walls to protect the area from whatever noise emanates from downstairs. So there is no escaping the awful acoustics.

Then there is the layout. I've only been to networking events upstairs. Less organized events are sometimes held downstairs, I seem to recall from passing by one on my way upstairs once. The layout upstairs is terrible. The stairs are too narrow for two people to pass by, which when you have a networking event with 50 or so people attending is kinda a pain. The bar is thankfully easy to find because it's right at the top of the stairs. Usually the check-in table is on the other side to the stairway, which creates a huge traffic jam between the people coming and the people trying to get to the bar from the far left.

Generally the open space upstairs is not very open. There is the aforementioned far left area behind where the check-in table usually is. It's a kind of no-man's-land you can't really get to without considerable difficulty because of all the people standing around the check-in table. There is a bar-like obstacle stretching from the structural column next to the check-in table to the back wall. You can go under it if you don't mind looking completely unprofessional, or in an emergency. Then there is the main space. It's not really that big, but as the most accessible space, and the space with most of the high-top tables and stools, it's where most people congregate. This gets very crowded because nobody can get out of there once they're inside. I mean, getting to the far left I already explained is very difficult, and going the other direction is also quite difficult. The bar takes up most of the space in front of this main area, and like most open bars, the lines get quite long at the bar. Then there is a far-right area. This space is dark and scary. There aren't many tables or seats, and you can't order from this end of the bar, so there's really no point to going back there. Even if you wanted to it might be impossible with the bar lines blocking the narrow passage from the main space to the far right. There is a wall corner inconveniently located perpendicularly to the corner of the bar here. The only benefit of this far right area is that it's generally cooler than the other areas because it's not so crowded. But once you go back there, you either won't be able to go back to the main area or won't want to.

Now, I'm sure that visiting the Field House in any other capacity is much more enjoyable. The management can't help inheriting this space. And networking groups can't help but be drawn to the drink specials, which are pretty good, and awesome location that's so close to public transportation. I haven't had the food there, but I'm sure it's perfectly fine. The staff is nice. I hate to say it's a terrible place for a networking event, but that's my opinion. Go there for dinner sometime, with like 4 friends (max). Don't go there for a networking event.
 
 
Dear Networking Event Planners;

Why do you insist on having your events all on the same night, at the same time??? I might be awesome, but can't be at 3 different things at one time. You might consider spreading things out a bit... you know, go networking with other networking event planners and discuss your schedules with each other so that you all can get more attendees.

In the future I am going to be MUCH pickier about the events I choose to attend... something to think about.

Thank you,
Hollie
 
 
They don't teach interpersonal things such as networking in architecture school. Either we're just supposed to know that stuff by nature, because we're so darn awesome at everything else, or it's assumed that interpersonal relationships with anybody other than our classmates are unnecessary and to be regarded with disdain. So since I started networking hard-core about 2.5 years ago, it came as a bit of a challenge.

If you're not an architect you probably don't know one, and it's unlikely at least right now that you'll meet one out networking. Even when I was being paid to network with architects it was difficult to find them - and I'm an insider! But if you are an architect, and finding it difficult to get yourself out there to drum up some business by making professional connections... you're not alone! Here are a few tips that I've picked up that might help you...

 
 
Things have been SO BEAUTIFUL out, that it has been difficult to focus on work.

It's now too hot for the chickens. They're being very demanding, and want to be out in the grass nearly all the time. But they continue to lay about 4 eggs a day, and we have way too many eggs now.

All the plants are putting out their leaves. Our trellis is almost looking happy again! I tied the blackberry and raspberry canes in interesting shapes so they look less messy, and hopefully will be easier when it's time to pick berries. Hubby threw down a seed mixture he'd concocted after reading several examples of other people doing so, with mixed results. The plants are all clumped together, so I'm worried about over-crowding.
 

Happy St. Patty's

03/09/2012

 
So it's March! It has been pretty warm around here, and the chickens have been laying eggs like there's no tomorrow. We weren't expecting it, but are happy to report that Pepper has laid two brown eggs in the last 3 days! This means she wasn't totally broken by last summer's heat wave that ended her season prematurely! The Marans breed isn't the best for egg production, so it would've been fine with us if she never laid another one. But I am just so happy to have a couple brown eggs!
Now we're in garden prep mode. Have been for a while. The beds are anxiously waiting the first seeds. Traditionally St Patty's Day is when you plant peas, and they're the first seeds we would be putting out. Except it has been so warm that we broadcast some white clover seeds in some bare spots around the yard already. The trick will be to keep the chickens away from them until they sprout. I was not expecting the birds to want such tiny seeds, but they do. sigh!

This weekend is the annual borough St Patty's Day parade. It's a big deal 'round these parts. I had no idea bagpipes were SO popular! And there are also a lot of little girls involved in traditional Irish dance. (forgive me for not knowing what that's called and being too lazy to look it up!) Anyway, to celebrate we hope to have a new batch of mead done. We made a strawberry mead and also an apple mead. Hopefully one will be Irish enough for the holiday. (I could just dye the apple mead green...)

Besides the St Patty's traditional pea planting and beer drinking, I've been very busy networking. Just the other day I met someone from the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture. This, less than a week after hearing this talk from the founder of Double Brook Farm, and our participation in the Plymouth Whitemarsh EcoFest later that night. It has been a great week for Green!!

Oh! And this week I was featured on Eggzy's blog. They started a new series called Featured Flock Owner. Check it out!
 
 
Things are way too busy around here right now. Well, I wouldn't say it's a bad thing, but it's been a long time since we've taken pictures of the garden or the birds or done a building project.

First, I was at the annual CEDIA Expo in Indianapolis weekend before last for the other company I'm working for, High Def Zone. (shhhh! don't tell anyone!)

Getting ready for and recouperating from a 4 day long business trip really took it out of me. And the fluffy chickens missed me a lot. So I spent some quality time with them for not only their sakes but mine too, because playing with the birds always puts me at ease.

The squashes growing on the chicken cage have gotten enormous to the point of nearly ripping the fence down! There are also several large squash vines taking over our butterfly bush. I'm not sure if there are actual squashes on them, but it looks crazy anyway.

Also on the chicken cage are overgrown Chinese yard beans. We will have tons of yard beans available for planting next year. If you want some, I'm sure hubby will be happy to share. I can't see how any one household could use that many beans! We basically haven't harvested any of them, prefering instead to give them to the chickens as treats. I don't know why, but the birdies LOVE those beans.

Our tomatoes went absolutely crazy. They grew out of control all over the yard and over the sidewalk, making it interesting times getting to my car in heels and a pencil skirt. We haven't been picking many tomatoes lately as they are taking much longer to ripen with all the clouds and shorter days.

The hardy kiwi vines, I'm happy to report, have made it to the TOP of the trellis finally. Now they are looking really awesome. The male vine actually needs to be trimmed back now! So hopefully next year we'll get to experience some of these little hardy kiwis.

We let the raspberries and blackberries grow long and take root so that we can dig them up and give them to the farm. Henry Got Crops has been a great experience this year, and we're looking for more ways we can easily support them. I don't have time to work in the fields, so maybe a gift of 10 or 20 little plants will help.

I was at FOUR evening networking events last week! One of which was a SARA PA board meeting on Tuesday. (love those guys!) A Women in Business Alliance event in Princeton Wednesday (where I was recognized for winning the logo contest). A King of Prussia Business Networking meetup Thursday which was HORRIBLY attended - NO offense to the 4 great guys who actually bothered to show up. And then there was the AEC Networking group first annual golf event on Friday... and I've never played golf before, but my team was amazing and I really need to follow up with a couple of them and schedule a lunch...

This doesn't include the daytime stuff: CSA pickup on Tuesday, Women to Watch by the Biz Journal on Wednesday morning (at the ass-crack of dawn), and BNI on Thursday morning (also the ass-crack of dawn).

Saturday after my weekly tai chi lesson I was dragged to the gun show in Valley Forge because of hubby's new hobby... yeah... tried to make it to my school's tai chi event in Phoenixville, but it just wasn't in the stars.

Yesterday I had a coffee appointment (just after the ass-crack of dawn). Today I was scheduled for a Power Lunch with some people, but it was cancelled. I'll just go pick up my CSA stuff. Tonight is my BNI group's open networking event at 8 East... I have a showroom to visit as well as an architect to spam. Then Thursday I have BNI again (you know, the ass-crack of dawn)... and later is the 422 ARCH September happy hour in Pottstown - which we have been mercilessly promoting all over the place. Then Friday (BEFORE the ass-crack of dawn) morning I'm lucky to have been invited to the Business Clubs America breakfast down at the Union League. Then apparently there is a Power Lunch that I had thought was on a different day, but oh well... Then there is a Penn alumni event that I was HOPING to make it to at the Mission Grill... but I'll probably just collapse on the couch instead.

So hopefully I'll have a few minutes one of these days to post pictures of the crazy squash and monster tomatoes. Until then, missing you!
Cheers,
H
 
 
I do a LOT of networking. Not to say that I do more networking than anybody on the planet, but I do more by far than most people I know. That's just how it is when you're trying to build up business. So it really irks me when people are rude about connection requests.

This has been happening to me a lot on LinkedIn lately. Now, I don't claim to be the MOST sensitive to others' needs, but I do try. I haven't bombarded any one connection with requests, and believe me I could. But I am trying to start relationships with certain people. This is what LinkedIn is for! It is a tool for building networks. You can also think of it as an online resume or ad space, but for the most part it is for networking. Thus the name, LinkedIn. You are Linked in to other professionals. I don't see why this is a difficult concept for some people to understand.

Another thing - when I see an opportunity for somebody I know (even if I don't know them all that well) I send them a note about it. It's good practice to try to help people. Most networking groups are explicit about this. They want people to give referrals. I have not found a single networking group that has stated you should go there and sell sell sell. So I personally have been very mindful to make connections where I see a possibility. Do not ever accuse me of simply being greedy and requesting connections willy-nilly.

So here I am,
 
 
That is the title of the next official 422 ARCH event which I have just booked and announced today!

I will be making a flyer for the event soon, which is good because I also have some other graphics stuff to do today - but that's a secret!

Anyway, I'm happy we will be having this event next month because ever since the first Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce Women in Business event I have been interested in helping more women out! At that event I learned that when women are involved in business, the business does better. Women offer a lot of interpersonal strengths to business dealings and have insights based on body language, etc. that men don't always pick up on. So if women are empowered to offer these talents up, everybody wins.

The two other organizers of the 422 ARCH events being women, as soon as I saw an opportunity to have an "empowering women" event I jumped at it. I received a newsletter from Dolores from Coaching for Life Today in which she advertised a new seminar about empowering women in business. She is offering this seminar at no charge for a limited time. Soon this seminar will become a webinar available on Dolores's website *I believe.* So I'm very happy to have convinced Dolores to drive an hour out to King of Prussia to talk with us. (it wasn't difficult)


This is among MANY other events which I have gone to in the last week, or will be going to in the next few weeks. Woohoo!