I was honored to be invited to participate and photograph a very unique networking event in SLO county. Organized and hosted by Lisa Burger (http://lisaburger.com). The event was called Project Prajña. Prajña is defined as "direct insight into the truth taught by the Buddha, as a faculty required to attain enlightenment".
The purpose of this event was to generate a new understanding to the people you meet while networking. There are so many networking events in SLO County. Most of the time we share brief encounters with other business owners and accumulate dozens of business cards that end up in piles on our desk. While you might have a goal of getting 10 business cards so you can connect with them later, I hate to admit it but I often have a hard time remembering who they were. It may take me a year or more to get to know them better.
Then there is you, you've practiced your commercial over and over. However, the whole story behind that 60 second elevator pitch is for sure more captivating. There really isn't enough time to engage this person when you're surrounded by dozens of other people who are anxious to meet you. Your partner feels the same way and you know if you talk too much about yourself you'll lose their trust. Good relationship marketing is equal sharing. Therefore, you move on to the next person and you hope you can meet them at a later time.
It is not often you get to share who you are in more depth with a group of strangers. Nor gain a better understanding behind the people you meet briefly at a mixer? Project Prajña was an exclusive evening for business leaders and visionaries to share their personal journey, their stories, and their wisdom. We heard from a wine maker, a life coach, a doctor, a DJ, and so many more. Thirteen people all together including me, the photographer, Gina Cinardo.
This entire event happened in a really cool environment. Cantinas On Park in Paso Robles which is a premier private event venue. Decorated ranch style shabby chic. The lighting and eclectic bric-a-brac was fun and yet still presented in casual elegance. The food was also spectacular and we got to share our stories while eating a delicious meal and sipping wine. Cantinas On Park was a fantastic backdrop to photograph.
The evening included a portrait of each of it's participants, except me, I was taking the photos, to keep and use in their marketing or personally. Photographed in an editorial manner. I did not set up a corner studio at the venue. The point was to capture everyones portrait taken "in the moment" to reflect the mood of their story and the entire energy of the group. Once each participant was done with their story I took them briefly away from the group and picked an area in the room to photograph them. The cool thing was each person was kind of beaming, still a bit high on adrenaline, happy and excited.
In conclusion, I thought Project Prajña was really successful. I'm hoping to participate in future Projects by Lisa. Not just to meet new people in more depth but also to see how this type of meeting evolves. There was an overall feeling and theme that naturally developed that evening. It was definitely an exploration of each persons journey and past challenges that lead them to where they are now. I'm sure depending on the time of year and energy of the participants that would vary from event to event. Therefore, I am really looking forward to more Prajña events to come.