Party Planning and Networking for Hermits: If I Can Do It, So Can You

I like to post confessions on this blog. Sometimes I just need something to go on the record. So here’s another: I am not a social butterfly. I’m a hermit, really. If given the choice, I’d much rather stay home than hang out with strangers, acquaintances, and friends under the pretext of trying to have a good time. What if I make what I think is a hilarious joke that offends everyone? What if I talk too loud, too much, not enough? And then there’s networking. Socializing with a purpose, without trying to be obvious about your purpose. These can be intimidating endeavors for me. So how is it that I wound up planning a party?

A few weeks ago, one of the members of the executive committee of Chicago Women in Publishing (CWIP) asked me if I wanted to help out with arranging the food for CWIP’s Fall Kickoff event. I’m not surprised that I have gotten a reputation for being, well, interested in food. I’m a vegan who tests and edits recipes, and I have a background in culinary training. I talk about food a lot. I might not be a line cook anymore, but I certainly make food a part of my personal and professional life whenever I can. So of course I said that I’d love to help. Besides, I knew if I had any sort of say in what was on the menu, then I would definitely be able to eat at the party. (I tell people all the time that being vegan isn’t hard, but it can require a bit of forethought when eating in a group setting with non-vegans.)

Tasty bites from Real Kitchen, including a cured and smoked tofu vegan BLT!

Tasty bites from Real Kitchen, including a cured and smoked tofu vegan BLT!

So what’s on the menu? A nice assortment of canapés from Real Kitchen, and some wine and nonalcoholic beverages. Party stuff. I thought the vegan BLT was a great idea, and I tasted it on Wednesday—it’s rich and smoky and hits all the notes it should. Thanks to Nick at Real Kitchen for coming up with a delicious and creative vegan option that isn’t a grilled portobello or hummus plate.

What you don’t see in that picture, of course, is the blurry montage of the dozens of e-mails and phone calls it took to get here. Who knew planning a party was so much work? I have to admit that I’m a little tuckered out right now. I’m so glad I had some great CWIP members to lean on (huge thanks to Alex and Kim!).

I’ve got a few days to rally before the event next week. It’s on Tuesday, September 10, at the Lillstreet Loft, from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

I’ve really enjoyed volunteering for CWIP and plan on helping more in the coming months. Around this time last year, I was getting ready to attend the kickoff (my first event as a CWIP member) and starting this website. I was timid about going to a party full of strangers and trying to shake hands and schmooze. Now I’m more comfortable with networking, slippery little term that it is, and I’m always up for exchanging ideas and chatting with my fellow publishing colleagues.

Do I have advice or tips on how to swallow the hermit tendencies and head out to meet and greet? Not really. I just dove in—really, I dive in, present tense, every time I go to a new event. So, I hope I’ll see you at the kickoff. Come up and say hi. I want to hear what you think of the food, of course!


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11 Responses to “Party Planning and Networking for Hermits: If I Can Do It, So Can You”

  1. Kim Bookless says:

    I love this post, Cassandra. Thanks so much for your help with the CWIP Fall Kickoff — we couldn’t have done it without you!

    • EditCassandra says:

      Thank you, Kim! I feel like it took about a thousand e-mails, but we got it! I’m so glad you came to the tasting, too. And now, time to recruit the party planner for the next event, right? 🙂

  2. Alexandra Uth says:

    I love this post! You’ve done a phenomenal job planning the food and beverages for the Kickoff. I had no idea what I was getting you into when I asked you to help with the planning!

    • EditCassandra says:

      Glad you liked the post, Alex! It sounded so easy, right? Just pick out some food and beverages. But I think all of our hard work will make upcoming parties that much easier to plan. At least I hope so! 🙂

  3. Heather Lengyel says:

    The food for tonight’s Kickoff sounds terrific, Cassandra! I’m looking forward to trying Real Kitchen’s creations. See you at the Loft.

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