On Monday, June 28th, I had the pleasure of attending the New York Metro chapter’s “Gather and Share” networking event. This is a monthly program hosted by the chapter that brings together the best and brightest in the field to shake hands, exchange cards, share great ideas, and make meaningful connections. The event was hosted in the bottom floor of a Midtown Manhattan bar, facilitating a comfortable, tight-knit atmosphere. Unlike similar events that often find attendees intertwined with a general happy hour crowd, this area was specifically designated for ASTD attendees. Before the event began, the chapter’s Consultant SIG (special interest group) had their meeting in an adjacent room downstairs, allowing a round of networking before the networking. This helped energize many of the attendees, who hit the ground running with ideas as soon as they let out and met the other participants. The “a-ha” moment from the SIG meeting came as a member shared the underlying theme of the group: When meeting people who have a need for a consultant, the response is often “That’s not something I do, but I know someone who does.” The sense of community these meetings foster is invaluable. Once the SIG attendees came together with the rest of the group, people began organic conversations that took on a number of different directions. People discussed career transitions, branding, breaking into the field as an outsider, marketing, financial management, and innovative thinking. A spread of hors d’oeuvres provided by the chapter drew everyone to a central location, allowing new introductions and people to seamlessly transition from one interesting conversation to another. As opposed to many networking events that are structured in a “speed dating” format, this was free-flowing and found the attendees engaged in far more meaningful conversations than the usual five minute introductions. Everyone I spoke with came away with several actionable takeaways, and each of them intended to return to the next event. Additionally, many expressed an interest in inviting a friend/colleague to the next meeting as well. Kudos to the New York Metro chapter for an outstanding event, and best wishes to all as you engage your members through similar networking functions!