My first WICT event – Holiday Tea at The Logan Hotel

At 2pm on Thursday, December 7, 140 women stepped away from their jobs and gathered in a beautiful ballroom at The Logan for WICT’s Holiday Tea. In attendance were VPs, senior managers, recruiters, consultants and freelancers with roles across marketing, program management, tech, data and user experience representing Philadelphia’s cable telecommunications companies—Comcast, ARRIS, QVC, Pure Integration and Robert Half to name a few.

The cozy room was full of energy as members reconnected, hugged and made strategic introductions before the start of the program. Group selfies were taken and several ladies had accessorized their outfits with colorful fascinators for the occasion. Right on time, tea was poured, seats were taken and snacks were served. The menu was a heavy line up of individual plates with an assortment of elegant tea sandwiches (mini toasted sandwiches are the best!) followed by freshly baked cherry scones (so good!) and a decedent desert platter (chocolate and cakes!). It was a lot of food and I do not exaggerate when I say everything was delicious.

As we sipped and snacked, Programming Co-Director, Laura Lee, kicked off the program with highlights from 2017. Proud of the strong work and impactful achievements accomplished together, Laura applauded the group telling the room “today’s event is about celebrating us, the members of the Philadelphia chapter” and that they will continue execute WICT’s purpose of “networking and bringing more power to our industry.”

Sara Erbstein, Programming Co-Director on WICT’s board and organizer for the tea, introduced guest speaker Hillary Rea. It was the first time a speaker was included in the program and I bet it will be a key component to the schedule in the future – Hillary’s segment was excellent. As Director of Executive Search at Comcast, Sara explained that what makes a candidate standout at the exec level is not the qualifications listed on their resume (i.e. the qualifications/skills are a given), it’s the ability to “engage people and make others interested in [their] story.” Sara emphasized the relevancy of good storytelling as: a tool for networking, showing off your authentic self, and displaying your brand.

Hillary is the founder of Tell Me a Story, a local firm that offers strategic storytelling workshops for companies and individuals on how to make meaningful and lasting impressions on audiences. Before diving into her presentation, Hillary gave us the exercise of writing our own 5 Word Life Story. So, on branded postcards, we each wrote five words that epitomized our life and the date. It was a clarifying activity, one that quickly summarized my mindset, priorities and mood. Hillary recommended doing the exercise daily and in the future reflecting back on the previous stories. Daily felt ambitious, but I did see the value in the activity. I’m shooting for monthly.

Hillary’s presentation was full of great insights and guidelines. Two major takeaways for me were: 1. To connect on a universal level, be specific. When wanting to connect with an audience, it’s more effective be specific in your story rather than general/broad. The specificity of the details will present natural points of relevancy and connection. 2. If a person is truly (like really really) engaged, you can hold their attention for a solid seven to eight minutes. That’s it. So aim for two minutes and be aware of anything past eight.

Tea closed on many high-notes with Dena Herrin accepting a check for funds raised by WICT Philadelphia for Girls, Inc. and the announcing of raffles winners. QVC sponsored two fabulous door prizes, a Donney & Bourke bag and Dyson hairdryer – lots of oooh’s and aaaah’s here! Followed by a slew of winners for 1-on-1 career coaching sessions, which included sessions offered by Hillary Rae and ten powerful execs in the industry (e.g. VP Procurement at ARRIS, SVP Operations for Comcast Business Services, SVP Prospect Marketing for Comcast, etc.). The opportunity to have an hour with any of the raffled execs for coaching was simply amazing.

So, what did I think of my first my WICT event? I was impressed.

Yes, The Logan is an exquisite space to attend an event. Yes, the food was delicious. Yes, I took away new and relevant knowledge from the guest speaker. Yes, it was really fun. But any of that can be hit or miss in one or more categories when going to an event—what really struck me were the members. Everyone I met was open, warm, genuinely interested in learning about each other and proactively strategic in making introductions with contacts that could be potentially valuable. Each time I chatted with a member and casually shared my skills and interests they would listen, create connections and offer their business card to stay in touch. The sentiment Laura opened with rang loud and true, “networking and building power within our industry.”

Thank you, WICT Philadelphia, for a lovely tea – I am excited to be part of this fantastic chapter!