It’s normal to get nervous before a date, right? What about a business date? I’d signed myself up for Business Speed Dating, a business networking event hosted by Tāiki e! in collaboration with Gisborne Chamber of Commerce. I’d also committed to writing an article on it, so no backing out now. Sometimes you’ve just gotta put yourself out there.
The place is already pumping when I arrive at Tāiki e! Impact House in Treble Court on Thursday night. It’s not even the advertised start time of 6:30 pm yet. I thought the Gizzy thing was to arrive late? Everyone is chatting away and happy to include someone new in their conversation. Strangers approach me and introduce themselves. As a new face I am in demand! Oh cool, there’s wine! Beer. Juice. Pizza. These folks have thought of everything.
As someone who struggles to remember names, I’m grateful that people are wearing name tags. There’s one for me on the table too. I don’t have to muddle along by myself, everyone is really helpful. More gratitude when I see my name is spelt correctly.
It’s just as well Cain and Seda have a microphone to announce the start of the event and how the evening’s going to run. We’re getting pretty loud. Those of us with tags written in green go sit on one side. We have to stay put for the evening. The folks with the black name tags move around to the left. We have 5 minutes to find out a bit about each other. Get your business cards ready!
It’s all a bit of a whirlwind from there. In quick succession, I meet 10 locals, tell them why I’m there, and find out about them. Many have gained skills away from home that they want to share with Te Tairāwhiti. Have I said I was impressed yet? I’m impressed. There’s some innovative stuff happening in our quiet corner of Aotearoa. I’ve never come across so many inspiring people who care about our community in one place before. Ever better, there’s plenty of crossover. Phil Kupenga hit the nail on the head, describing his goal to bring technology knowledge to the region. He said let’s be more future ready than shovel ready.
The event focus is on business networking in a fun and friendly environment. You can share your contact information and decide who you’d like to follow up with. It’s a great way to boost professional networks, generate new business leads and find other skills and wisdom within the community. As they say, It’s all about who you know.
The event is for anyone, budding or established entrepreneurs and anyone else interested in meeting new people and building their networks. The next one will be advertised on Taiki e’s Facebook page and you’ll need to register through Eventbrite.
Story & Photograph by Leah McAneney