A lunchtime one-to-one had to cancel suddenly this week. That left an opening between two meetings with nothing to do. Fortunately, it was Wednesday and I was in downtown Ann Arbor. That meant Lunch Ann Arbor Marketing (LA2M) was about to start. Here’s a quick review.
Organization: LA2M
Location: Conor O’Neill’s Celtic Room, 318 South Main Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Date: Every Wednesday
Time: 11:45am-1pm. People usually start showing up at 11:30
Format: Open networking, speaker, introductions
Size: 50-90
Attendees: Marketing professionals and those interested in topics in that field
Cost: Free (suggested $3 donation). $10 if you want lunch.
LA2M started out in January of 2008 as a small group (five attendees at the first meeting) of marketing professionals who gathered once a week to discuss the issues and challenges they experienced in the pursuit of their businesses. Over time it grew until today when every Wednesday sees seventy or eighty professionals from a variety of industries crowd into the Celtic Room at Conor O’Neill’s on Main Street in downtown Ann Arbor. Most show up for the topic of the day, but for many this is also a great social and networking outlet.
You’ll see people start to gather for the event at 11:30 or even earlier. Word to the wise: Get there as early as possible. Depending on the topic, the seats can fill up fast and the prime seats are largely gone by the official start time of 11:45. General mixer-style networking goes on until noon when Derek Mehraban, one of the founders, calls things to order. After covering a bit of business and passing the hat (there is a recommended $3 donation) he introduces the speaker for the day.
Derek Mehraban introducing
Rob Goren from Google
While I don’t have the opportunity to attend as often as I would like, the speakers and topics are almost always top-notch. I’ve seen presentations on sales, asking for referrals, and general marketing. I’ve seen more technical talks about social media, website development, and this week one on using YouTube for marketing your business. Back in October, they even scored a real coup by securing Mike Tirico, Play-by-Play Commentator, Studio and ESPN Radio Host.
After the presentation, the last fifteen minutes or so are for doing introductions by passing the microphone. While a lot of folks will leave right afterward, quite a few stick around for a few minutes more of chatting and networking. If you do attend, just be ready to stand and give your introduction. A little bit of practice will make this easier.
I really should attend this event more often. For me it has a great mix of people who are new to me and those whom I’ve known for a while. I’ve noticed that, in general, the people here really understand good networking practice. I rarely see some of the more egregious behaviors which can mar some of the general networking events around town.
If LA2M has any downside it would probably be found in its own success. I’ve attended several of these which were standing room only (as was this weeks). The venue, while relatively spacious, can get so crowded that it’s difficult to move around and meet people. The seating is also set up on both sides of long tables which hold eight. This means that half of the people either face the speaker or face their lunch (assuming they choose to order) — yet another reason to show up early.
Speaking of the food, lunch is optional. LA2M has a deal with Conor O’Neill’s. The restaurant provides a limited menu (about eight items as I recall), mostly Irish fare. For $10 you get an ample entrée and beverage and it covers the tip for the server, too. I quite enjoyed my vegetarian “boxty”, which was a potato pancake sandwiching grilled vegetables and included a side salad.
If you just can’t make it downtown for the event, while it isn’t networking, you can tune into most of the presentations via a live feed during the event or at any other time through the archives on the LA2M website. You won’t get the benefit of meeting all the great people who tend to show up on a regular basis, but you can at least gain the benefit of the information presented.
After attending this last one and remembering how informative and conducive to good networking they are, I’ve resolved to catch many more of these this year. Hope to see you there.