A few weeks ago I went to a lovely, intimate event hosted by Business for a Better Portland (BBPDX). This was a casual networking event held at Sante’s Bar in Portland … and it worked so very well. We wanted to explore why.

Many of us have a love-hate relationship with meetings. The reality is that creating space for conversations is critical to our collaborative work,

As Deborah Tannen once wrote, “Talk is the lifeblood of managerial work.”

We know you want to convene really great, kick-ass, engaging, and valuable meetings and gatherings. And while sometimes you can bring in an outside facilitator like us, it’s just not possible for every meeting.

I spoke with Stephen Green, BBPDX Executive Director. He said that before the pandemic their events ranged from 80 to 300 people. Post pandemic is a different world. Stephen learned that members want a more intimate experience — something that allows people to connect without feeling crowded. We agreed that in large events you immediately look for the people you know.

It is a very natural (even primal) response to find affinity in a crowd, but this can get in the way with making new connections.

At this event there was no planned program – the goal was to meet people. And because of the intimate size there was no impulse to scan the room for the familiar face. Walking in the door I felt immediately welcome. And I was surprised with the level of connection I made with every person I spoke to.

What worked here was responding to the changing needs for networking events. I applaud Stephen and his team for focusing on how to be human-centered rather than numbers-oriented.

Tell us how you REALLY FEEL about meetings? We have a VERY simple form you can complete to let us know what is working, what is not, and what you want to be better.

Feelings About Meetings

Let us know the good, the bad, the ugly of your own team gatherings!

We believe it is possible to for these to truly be the invigorating “lifeblood” of your collaborative work.


BBPDX, Gatherings, meetings, Networking

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