It’s no secret that networking can be a daunting task. Going to an event with large groups of people, wearing a name-tag color coded to your industry, and clutching your one free drink is not most people’s idea of a perfect night out. But networking is a very important skill, especially early on in your career. And luckily for Chicago ladies, there is a group that understands these networking fears and can help you conquer them; enter Garnish & Glam.
Started by friends Nicole Regan, Anna Gendel and Stephanie Guerreri, Garnish & Glam hosts monthly events around the city of Chicago that are geared towards learning a new skill (from hair and makeup tips to mixing a killer cocktail) and meeting young professional women from a wide variety of industries. Right now the club is by referral only, which means every woman will know at least one other person at every event, while allowing G&G to host events in smaller, more personal venues.
“People are always looking for an excuse to get together, but sometimes you just need a little push,” says Grendel about the idea behind the social club, which is now fielding offers for partnerships with a multitude of Chicago brands and hot spots.
But no matter where the event takes place, they want you to feel comfortable, as if you were at a girl’s night with friends.
“That’s how we treat our events; As if someone was coming to our house,” Gendel says. “It’s not supposed to be a scary networking event. It’s supposed to be a good time!”
A good time for everyone, including the hostesses. All three friends come from different industries, and credit the success of their club with their ability to play off of each other’s strengths. They call Garnish & Glam their “fun job,” according to Guerreri, and they have seen G&G grow to more than 100 members in just a few short months.
Plus, the group is reserved for women only. This was an intentional decision, and done in an effort to combat the “Mean Girls” image of women in the workplace that Guerreri says is far from the truth in most cases. This is their version of a “good ole’ girls club.”
Gendel seconds that conclusion, saying, “It’s about empowering women while doing fun things together.” And Regan promises “even if you don’t meet anyone, you will get something out of the events,” whether that’s a break in your week or a new skill to bust out at or after work. G&G is out to prepare the up and coming women bosses of Chicagoland to lead their professional and personal lives with style and confidence.
Want to have that Garnish and Glam confidence? Here are tips from the founders on nailing an interview, setting the right goals and networking like a true G&G gal…
- Find a woman to admire: Whether she’s a literal force to be reckoned with a la the founders of Soul Cycle (Guerreri’s choice), a leader online like the women behind The EveryGirl and CheekyChicago (blogger Regan’s choice) or your own mother (Gendel), it’s important to have someone to motivate you and to look up to.
- Network everywhere: And they mean everywhere! Guerreri has made connections on an airplane and Gendel chats people up at her gym’s juice bar. “Everyplace should be seen as an opportunity,” according to Regan.
- Your resume is your ticket in: Gendel describes your resume as the ultimate first impression to a potential employer, and says that sometimes formatting can be the most important thing. It’s not just “what you say, but the way it looks” that could make or break your chances.
- Make yourself stand out: Whether it’s with your interview outfit (Gendel stands by a great Theory suit with a fun necklace) or how you sell yourself, all the friends say it’s important to make an impression that lasts. Guerreri says you have to be able to sell your “So what?” to show what you and only you bring to the table.
- Dream big: Have an ultimate goal for each day/month/year and career move you have planned. These girls dream big for Garnish and Glam too! Regan wants to do an event at a major magazine office like InStyle and Guerreri wants to pick the brain of Burberry execs about their iconic trench.
You never know where your ambition will take you, but until then, I recommend trying to join Garnish & Glam! If Regan, Gendel and Guerreri have anything to say about it, you won’t leave empty handed.