Posts Tagged ‘Speed Networking’

An Evening of Connections at Marywood University

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

An Evening of Connections at Marywood University

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Photographs by Kitch Loftus-Mussari and
Tony Mussari, Sr.
Copyright Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD 2015
All Rights Reserved

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together
is success. Henry Ford

The Challenge

On a cold February afternoon, Kitch and I drove to the campus of Marywood University to participate in a Speed Networking event.1 Sign_MUSN Planned and organized by a small group of students who are majoring in Business and Managerial Science, it was the first of its kind held at the university.

Speed Networking enables students to connect with a wide range of individuals who can best be described as success stories, role models and mentors. According to those in the know, speed networking is a convenient and quick way to make professional contacts in a relaxed setting.

My assignment was one of the most challenging opportunities I have had 2 Matt _Ann_MUSNduring our Face of America Journey. The coordinator of the event, Matthew Parkyn, needed a keynote speaker. On January 5, he sent a note with this question:

I email you today to ask you if you would like to be my guest speaker for a program that my friends and I are setting up. The program will be on Thursday, February 12th, 5:30pm-7:30pm… As the speaker you will have 20-30 minutes of talking and 10-15 minutes of Q&A. Attached is a rough draft of what the event will entail.

I accepted Matthew’s invitation, and for the next five weeks, I spent most of my time working on a presentation that would encourage,5 AM__MUSN inform, and inspire those in attendance. As I learned more about the event, it became very obvious that to be successful the presentation had to resonate with three different groups: students, teachers and business people.

With a lot of encouragement from Kitch and wonderful cooperation from friends and people we met during our journey across America, I was able to construct a presentation that was designed to give the students an insight into what it means to be successful in business and in life and what constitutes a productive mentoring experience.

First Impressions

The tone for the evening was set by a student who was parking his car when we arrived. A pleasant exchange opened the door to wonderful 1 SAbo_MUSNconversation with Abo Zahid. As we walked to the Nazareth Student Center, I was taken with his resolve and his beautiful smile. He was polite, respectful and a joy to be with. Without knowing much about his background, it was obvious to me that he is a living example of resilience.

The atmosphere inside the student center was festive and1 Registration_MUSN relaxed. The students who worked at the registration desk were pleasant. Dr. Monica Law welcomed everyone she met with a kind word and an infectious smile.

Matthew was preoccupied with many things, but he took the time to help me set up my PowerPoint presentation.

Conversations with Sister Mariam Pfiefer and Dr. Murray Pyle made us feel like we were part of the Marywood family.

3 Kitch _Ann_MUSN

Kitch had a serendipitous reunion with Ann Montoro Williams. In the 80’s, Kitch and Ann covered many of the same news stories for their respective radio stations. Today, Ann is the Director of Alumni Engagement at Marywood.

Dr. Chris Speicher visited with Kitch to update her on the activities of our mutual friend and Marywood graduate, Kirwan Ameen.

3 Kitch _Gale _Sister_MUSN

When our dear friend Dr. Gale Jaeger entered the room, she took a seat next to Sister Mariam. While Gale was a member of the Marywood faculty, she originated the Annual Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility Conference. To this day, the conference is one of the premier events sponsored by the Business and Management division of the university.

The Presentation

4 Matt__MUSN

At the appointed hour, Matthew took his place at the podium. In the tradition of Speed Networking, he made brief remarks about the members of his committee, Katie and John. He welcomed everyone, and he explained the agenda for the evening. Then, he introduced my presentation.

To set the tone for the evening, I asked the students three questions:

Why are you attending this event?

What is your purpose?

What can I do to help you?

The students who responded emphasized their desire to improve themselves. One student put it this way: “I want to become a better person.”

After this exercise, I shared two quotations:

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.
Stephen R. Covey

I followed Dr. Covey’s insightful comment with a quotation from Dr. Dan Kopen, the surgeon who gave Kitch a second chance at life when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. When he started to practice medicine, his mother gave him this advice:

Treat every patient like they are family.

For the next 40 minutes, I followed Mrs. Kopen’s advice.

I shared a number life lessons, a summary of the essentials of mentoring and a list of suggestions for success in business and in life. Obviously, I cannot incorporate all of the material in this article, but I can tell you that the audience was engaged and receptive to the information. These are three ideas that got their attention:

Technology is a great servant, but a bad master.

There are 7 different types of mentors:


1. The wise leader (Senior Executive)
2. The life coach (HR Professional)
3. The teacher (Working with student)
4. Peer mentors (Colleague/friend)
5. The confidante (A sounding board)
6. The self help mentor (Books)
7. The inner mentor (Inner Voice)

Eliminate all or nothing thinking.

The Main Event

8 Table room__MUSN

During the networking session, Kitch and I observed students talking with business professionals and potential mentors. The atmosphere was relaxed and the participants were making the most this unique opportunity. There were 15 tables in the room, and virtually all of the seats were occupied.

9 Table 9__MUSN

At Table 9, Chris DiMattio was surrounded by Finance and Accounting majors who were interested in making contacts in the financial services industry. Chris is a Senior Vice President at FNC Bank. He is a frequent visitor to the Marywood campus. Abo Zahid was one of the students listening to Chris.

9 Table 7__MUSN

At Table 7, Ann Montoro Williams answered questions from four students as she helped them better understand how they could make the right contacts and build their network.

8 Table 4__MUSN

The smiles on the faces of Dr. Murray Pyle and his associates made it very clear that Speed Networking is an enjoyable experience. This message is reinforced by the last picture I 11 final pict_MUSNsnapped for this article. It records the moment just before Michele and Abo left the venue.

On this cold winter evening, the upper main dining room in the Nazareth Student Center at Marywood University was filled with people who were engaged in a wonderful, student organized communal activity. In every respect, it gave truth to the words used by Marywood to attract new students:

Marywood University is about more than higher education. It is about taking your education higher.

Congratulations Matthew, Katie and John. Kitch and I enjoyed the Speed Networking experience, and we think it is fair to say so did everyone who attended the event.

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