Networking is definitely a major key when looking to launch, grow or expand a business, but it costs time and money. From the time you spend away from your office (and your paying clients), to the costs of transportation and staying on fleek while presenting yourself and your business to new people, the expense of networking can be cumbersome. Attending EVERY event you’re invited to or find online is not cost effective, so being selective about the networking events you attend is a must. I’m very intentional about how many events I attend each month and base them on my business goals. One event that I found very important to attend this month is the Skye Soiree. The Skye Soiree promises to provide some very important networking features that will not only expand my network, but will allow me to do it while celebrating the 7th anniversary of a brand I trust, Skye Media Group. I chatted with Toni Patterson, the head chica in charge over at SMG and she told me what to expect from the Skye Soiree.
Keyauna Chantel: What is the premise behind the Sky Soiree? Why are we having the Sky Soiree on May 20th?
Toni Patterson: Well, the Sky Soiree is kind of a combination event that is celebrating our seventh year in business but also, creating a networking event to show our appreciation and support of small business owners that we have worked with; that we want to connect with, and that we might want to work with in the future. Because it’s a networking event, we really get to see the things that work and the things that don’t work with guests when you spend time and energy to go somewhere and the event is oversold or is lackluster. It’s a disappointment. So, with Sky Soiree I wanted to maximize the things that work, minimize the things that don’t work and then put our spin on it and really show our brand in action. Being a designer that’s always on the computer and behind the scenes, I notice that when I do go places, it’s like a shock when people meet me. Not for any particular reason except you seem to think the designers are always behind the computer. So, it’s just a good way for us to introduce or just to show more of the brand and show it in action. And also to get into this whole experiential side of marketing where brand experience is; launches and that kind of thing. Kind of like an extension of the brand identity. The next level is brand experience. So we want to show our media brand experience.
KC: Okay, so, speaking to the aspect you mentioned that when you go out to events and stuff, people are like shocked to really put the face, you, with the brand. Talk about how important that is because I see a lot of the event marketing has to do with you personally. Talk about that decision, and why you decided to put more of Toni into this experience that we’re all going to have on May 20th.
TP: It’s been a struggle to actually put myself as the face of my business for reasons … barriers, sometimes being a female, sometimes being black. When you put that out there, some people don’t wanna work with you. I mean, that’s just what it is. And then not wanting to be the face and letting our client work really do the talking. But with forming a brand, people, they want to know the person behind the brand because they’re putting their vision into somebody’s hands to create their brand identity for them or help them develop or help them grow their business. They are paying you money. So people really want to know who they are doing business with. So that thought overshadowed this kind of barrier with being a black female designer and just took over. And so now is the thing where I am the face of the business. I just want to sprinkle pieces of me in it because the brand still has to do with me. I just make sure that my client work is the focus and other aspects of my life come through as well.
So even on my Instagram, it is mostly business, but the personal is really sprinkled in there. Like you won’t see me posting about food or about my daughter, but you might see me out at a concert, or something because that’s still relevant to my business, and it’s kind of along the same lines. You won’t see me on my Instagram with a scarf on or with slippers on and pajamas on or anything like that because that’s not relevant. But I think that it is very important to connect the person to the brand; to the business. People do business with people, not really based on your products and services. They do to an extent, but they really want to do business with people. That’s why I like dealing with small businesses because if I have a problem, I can pick up the phone and call somebody as opposed to going through a whole bunch of representatives. I don’t even like talking to representatives on the phone. So, I really like the personal touch of dealing with small businesses.
KC: I’m pretty sure that a big part of what Sky Media represents is that personability. Talk about how you decided to form your brand and outside of the actual technique and your skill set, why did you decide to form it the way you have which is a more personable, small boutique kind of a brand as opposed to something larger?
TP: I’m not opposed to growth, but it’s been a challenge for me to grow bigger than me being the designer and maybe working with someone else as a graphic designer or a developer. Sky Media Group being my business. It’s hard to trust people with my clients’ visions. Plus, I also get the feeling from clients that the ones that I work with that they don’t want to go to big companies. They like the personal touch of getting the person on the phone, having that person call you back, knowing that one person is dedicated to your project. So, that idea has kept me being the one-woman operation but also pairing myself with my friend who’s an event designer. So she’s the one who’s like, it’s my concept and vision, but she’s the one that’s gonna execute it, and we’ve been working on a lot of pieces for the event together, but that’s a piece that I don’t have to deal with. And then, I have a photographer that I work with all the time, so I don’t have to deal with taking pictures cause I don’t know how to take pictures anyway. You don’t necessarily have to expand with other people that are in your industry, but you can expand with people that relate to your industry to help you service your clients better.
KC: So how important is it for you for networking? I know that one of the highlights of the event is the networking portion, and you just touched on some of the other people that you have worked with that are helping you with your business, and I’m sure that you have helped them in your own way. How important is that when you talk about being a one-woman show, leaning a little more on other people who are not part of your business, but are still integral to success.
TP: Yeah, that’s very important, because when you go to networking events, you’re looking to network and connect with somebody else who could possibly take your business, your life, your brand to the next level. And you don’t necessarily have to have your own business to go to the next level in your life. You might need a life coach, or you might need a nutritionist, just personally. So, with Sky Media and these people at the Sky soiree, it’s more of intentional networking. We’re gonna make sure that everybody gets a chance to talk to everybody, as long as they’re willing to participate. If you’re an event planner, you plan events. You’re not a florist. You’re not a DJ. You’re not a photographer. You’re not a baker. But when you have these people on your team to say that you we have a dedicated vendor for this, or we might have several dedicated vendors for this, it definitely helps your business grow, and you can provide better services and a better customer experience for your client. It’s very important, even with being a one-woman shop. If my client needs a photo shoot, I have a photographer that I go to, or I’ll help them find another one. I have a makeup artist so they don’t have find their own. So it’s definitely like a creative collaboration that I have with them.
KC: What other parts of the Skye Soiree do you think that attendees will just really fall in love with and appreciate being able to have at an event like this?
TP: The attention to detail and the fact that they will be able to really have social interactions with other people that matter. I think also, them actually being apart of the event. Yes, you’re an attendee, but we have a few activities where you can be a part of the night. It’s not anything that they have to work too hard at, but just a little bit of interactivity so you won’t just talk to who you came with, or stand on the wall, or just and look around. That is the worse when you go to a networking event, and you’ve done all of this to get there, and living in Baltimore, it takes me an hour to get to any networking events in DC, and when I get there it’s like crickets. That has happened so many times, and you know now it’s a thing where I’ll still go to networking events, but it has to be a level up type situation. Happy hours and things like that, I don’t go to them. I have been to a few, and we found some interest in them, but happy hours, to me, they’re not giving me what I’m looking for. When I come out, I wanna have and experience. I don’t want to just have a drink and stand around and talk to people. I want to have an experience because it’s an experience that I’m getting myself together trying to go somewhere. It’s hair, makeup, gas, time, outfit cause you never wear the same thing twice. I don’t. So, it’s a whole bunch of stuff that you gotta do. So, you want to get people grooving and have them be happy that they gave up Netflix to come out.
KC: It’s worth their while.
TP: Exactly. So, that’s what I’m hoping to accomplish with Skye Soiree.
KC: So you’ve created this whole experience for them. They’re going to be there for a few hours doing the networking. They’re gonna have some activities that they’re gonna do. They’re gonna meet some new people. They’re gonna have some food. They’re gonna have some drinks. They’re gonna be real cute. But at the end of the day, what are they gonna walk away with for their business or for their life if they’re looking for something different? What do you think or what do you hope to have a person say about the Skye Soiree after they’ve experienced it?
TP: Feeling that they can launch too. Feeling that they can take the next step in whatever their business or career journey is because, when you start your business it’s like, you learn how to plan, which is usually your first step. Then you strategize about it. And then you create some consistent visuals. Then you have your website done. Then you take photos. You try to make connections online. You might do a little networking. But networking to me serves a better purpose when you can create your own event and have your community and supporters come out. People usually stop at the online aspect. They usually stop at social media. They don’t think about having their own event or having their own little celebrations that are customer appreciative. Having an actual website launch party. Having a product launch party. You just came out with a new line of clothes. And when I say party, not anything extravagant, but just an experience to show people the next new thing, and to show them that you appreciate them. So the Skye soiree and almost every one of the things that you said. I want them to feel hopeful and inspired that they too can have an event for a milestone that they have in their business.
There are still a few tickets to the Skye Soiree left. Get yours at soiree.skyemediagroup.com.