[Update: The name, location and pricing has been updated]

I got some good response from my reviews of potential networking venues, despite the fact that the locations are fairly local to Ann Arbor. So in a similar vein, I am going to do the occasional review of repeated networking events. I will focus on those events which happen at least monthly throughout most of the year. Since this is the first one of these I’ve done, please do let me know if I’m leaving out any vital information.

For my first review, let’s take a look at one of the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti Regional Chamber’s premier monthly events, Early Edition.

Name: Early Edition (formerly Morning Edition)
Organization: Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti Regional Chamber (aka A2Y Chamber)
Location: Kensington Court, 610 Hilton Blvd. Ann Arbor, MI. 48108
Date: Usually the third Wednesday of the month, skipping July, August, and December
Time: 7am-8:45am
Format: Open networking, meal, speakers
Size: 125-200
Attendees: Usually business owners or company officers — the “suit set”.
Cost: $25 for Chamber members, $45 for prospective Chamber members

Happening once a month, Early Edition is probably one of the best of the A2Y Chamber events to attend to meet the movers and shakers in this area. The folks who show up tend to be the show-runners for their businesses and are attending to find out more about what’s happening in and around the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. The speakers (usually four or five) can range from the CEO’s of large corporations, to politicians and candidates, to some guy who thinks he knows something about networking. Usually what they have to say is fascinating or important or both.

If you do attend, I recommend that you get there just five or ten minutes early. The networking is mixer style with no formal introductions (i.e. if you want to get anything out of it, you can’t be hiding in the corner). Open networking runs until around 7:30 when the breakfast buffet opens. Technically it continues past that point, but at that time of the morning a lot of people are hungry so they start getting their food and finding their way to the tables. I recommend that you continue the “standing and talking” part of the networking until around 7:45. Then get your breakfast and head for your seat. While you eat, be sure to continue your networking with your tablemates.

At around 8 or so, the more formal part of the event begins. The host, Russ Collins, the Executive Director and CEO of the Michigan Theater, is a lot of fun and keeps things rolling right along. His introductions are often amusing and/or thought-provoking and are designed to relax potentially nervous speakers who are occasionally more comfortable behind a desk rather than behind a podium.

They’ve been doing this for a while, so the show tends to start and stop on time. People do tend to hang out for a few minutes of networking after the event, but most head out pretty quickly in order to make it into the office by 9, so be sure that you’ve met your networking goals before the presentations start.

If there is a downside to Early Edition, it would be contained in the name. If you aren’t an early morning person, getting yourself out of bed and over to Weber’s Inn so you can do some networking can be a little bit of a challenge. Fortunately, the hotel staff keep the coffee well stocked, so if you can keep your hands from shaking long enough to pour it, you shouldn’t be in too much trouble.

Now, here’s a secret for those of you who’ve read this far: If you’ve never attended any A2Y Chamber event, you can get a guest pass for one gathering. Just contact Cheryl O’Brien at the Chamber offices and she can set you up. Just tell her that I sent you.

Hope to see you at the next one (provided I can get myself out of bed in time)!

Photo credit: Lindsay McCarthy