Do you every think –“I’m really not crazy about going to that networking event. I don’t know any one and don’t need any more cheese in my heavily cheese-dibbled diet?” Me, too!

But, every once in a while, I’m reminded that social media shouldn’t be the end of my introverted networking adventures. I recently attended a great networking event in Portland specifically geared to the athletic and outdoor industry, and came away thinking just the opposite of my usual response. This time I thought, “I should do that more often.”

Here’s the set up.

Prosper Portland is a city-sponsored organization focused on building the Outdoor and Athletic industry in Portland. The Portland metro area already has many legendary brands such as Nike, Adidas, Columbia, and now Under Armour, which just opened their footwear headquarters here. Other well-known brands such as Keen and Nau started in Portland as well. Added to that energy are loads of new and growing startups and dreamers, sometimes comprised of veterans who left the bigger campuses and launched their own endeavors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check this cool interactive graphic for a snapshot of the A & O ecosystem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The group recently hosted a celebration that brought together a group of young entrepreneurs who pitched their product, seeking funding for their dreams. You had to admire their passion and enthusiasm. It easily rubbed off on the 300 or so attendees.

Even with my 16 years at Nike, I was unsure if I would run into anyone I knew. But I was pleasantly surprised to see several familiar faces, and I ended up having a great time. I heard encouraging news from a couple of contacts about interesting work they are doing.

Loose connections in your network are the people that you know, but that you don’t necessarily deal with frequently. You probably have more people who are loose connections than tight connections. Hopefully, they have a positive impression of you and your work. These are the people that you worked with x-number of years ago or that you know from a professional association that you participate in. Loose connections are a great way of finding out about new projects, sharing job leads, and gaining insights you can only get from the inside.

For me, the Prosper A&O event turned out to be a great way to touch base with a few people I have loose connections with. All in all, it was a great chance to reconnect with people and forge some new friendships. Don’t discount the impact of loose networks! You can be a great resource for them and get up to speed on new activities in your industry.