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Monday, October 26, 2009

SALES AND MARKETING: Networking Without Trying

Sales and Marketing with Bill Doerr

15 Second Executive Speed Read

The verb 'network' has the word 'work' in it. That's unfortunate. For some people. For others, the terms 'network' and 'work' have no connection whatsoever. Colleen Ferrary is one of them.

As the co-founder of a wonderful variation on the 'offline social network' known as The Atlantic Social Club, Colleen and her partner, Ileen Roth have created a most amazing and increasingly popular way to network where 'work' is the last thing you think about when you do the kind of networking these two women love to share with their members.

Having a life . . . and fun while you're here . . . is a personal message for Colleen. It's how she intentionally lives her life - on purpose. It's also how she invites each of us to do the same as we build relationships and memories that make our lives all the better for it.

There's a Personal Story Behind This Business - It's Colleen's

Colleen Ferrary is, among many things, an accomplished human being. She's a mom. An executive in a firm where she coordinates the efforts of over 4,000 employees nationally and, in her 'spare' time, she's created a most unusual and highly regarded organization (The Atlantic Social Club) that brings people together in a manner that "definitely doesn't look like any traditional networking event."

Turning Tragedy Into Light

Before starting her latest business, Colleen was no stranger to challenges in her life. "When I was 30, I had far more dreams than memories. Then my sister was diagnosed with MS at age 27 and my mom, who already had MS, was confined to a wheelchair. A year later my 38 year old brother was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer." This changed Colleen's perspective about letting dreams wait. "I'd never gone hang-gliding, SCUBA diving, visted Bali in Polynesia, and many other things. So I made a personal commitment that, if the words, "I want to . . ." or, "One day I'd like to . . ." ever fell from my lips, within the next 24 hours, I would make plans to accomplish that goal." Colleen's done just that. And each of the goals cited above, too.

As evidence of her eternally optimistic spirit, she told me, "Some people say that with tragedy, there is light. I am happy to have found it for myself. And, through The Atlantic Social Club, I am helping others to find it as well."

Networking Is The Means, Not The End

With a heightened appreciation for living a 'good life', Colleen noted how some of her closest friends seemed obsessed pursuing an elusive 'success' in the future while losing sight of the 'acres of diamonds' that developing deeper relationships in their immediate 'backyards' . . . that their family and friends offered them . . . NOW!

"I wanted to meld both worlds - of social and professional success." Invariably, this meant developing deeper relationships with family, friends and colleagues.

"Never Look Back - Live Life Fully"

The Atlantic Social Club is, as noted earlier, not your traditional networking organization. It's success, as noted by a steadily growing membership, is based on the simple premise that people are inherently 'social' beings.

Colleen and Ileen hold about 20 - 30 'events' each month for their members where people come together for an activity that 'just seems like fun'. For example, recent events have included a canoe trip with a wine-tasting, behind-the-scenes tours of local museums, and yes . . . for those more adventurous (and, in good shape!) there are events planned that involve travel and doing things in a way that only local or indigenous people understand - like trekking in Nepal or ocean kayaking in Mexico. And if all you want to do is attend a 'sing-along at a local piano bar' or play Pictionary with a cozy group of new friends . . . that's readily available, too.

When You're Playing, You're Not Working

It's evident that holding a networking event that isn't a blatant networking event seems to work quite well for The Atlantic Social Club members. "We love hearing members tell us, "I didn't know what anyone did (professionally) when the event began but, by the end of it, I'd gotten to know several people who are going to prove very helpful to my business".

It's the old 'butterfly' principle. If you try to catch it, it's elusive. But, if you focus on something else, it lands on your nose. Same with Colleen's approach to networking. "Build a social event that doesn't 'make' people network and, Voila! . . . it happens!"

"The best connections (and, the best value!) we will ever gain from networking . . . are those where we build a solid relationship with another person, first." Good point.

"We Do All The Work, You Have All The Fun"

Asked, "Is there ONE thing that you do for your members that consistently gets noticed?" Colleen replied, "Yes. We do all the work. Our members have all the fun."

Organizing and orchestrating an event - large or small - is a hassle and a unique skill-set that not everyone can do. Factor in the limited time most of the members have and the value Atlantic Social Club provides, apart from offering the members some great events, is that they take care of all the details, preparations, introductions and follow-up. That's huge!

If Your Ship Doesn't Come In, Swim Out To Get It

A dear friend, Terra Vita said that to me. Colleen would agree, I'm sure.

While plans are underway to prototype The Atlantic Social Club for national expansion, at the moment you can emulate the principles that Coleen and Ileen used to build it locally. These include:

  1. Know Your Priorities
    Include whatever and whomever matters to you. Family? Friends? Money? Personal growth? Whatever you choose, remember, "You have nothing to offer if you've lived for nothing!"

  2. List Your Priorities
    Knowing what you must / should / want to do is important. Seek creative ways to accomplish your 'wants' along with the 'musts' and 'shoulds'

  3. Allocate Your Time Accordingly
    Once you know what you want to do before you can't, and you've thought of what
    you can do to achieve more than one goal, give your dreams a chance at reality by
    scheduling the time needed to turn them into a reality.

Colleen cites an article in Science Digest that suggests 'happy employees' are more productive. 'Happy' being defined as having an active and fulfilling personal and social life.

That follows her suggestion to honor what matters in your life by taking action on them. While not all goals may be realized immediately, you can begin planning to achieve them.

Final Thoughts

The old expression, "Live like there's no tomorrow" is Colleen's personal creed and a major inspiration for her creating The Atlantic Social Club. If something's worth dreaming about, it's worth planning for it and doing it as soon as practical.

After an all-too-short (and, delightful!) meeting with Colleen, here's my take-away:

Practice Colleen's Suggestions to:

  1. Plan to have a FULL life

  2. Honor your PRIORITIES

  3. Live your life INTENTIONALLY

Until a chapter of The Atlantic Social comes to your area, remember . . . "The best connections aren't forced, they're FUN!" The author Marsha Sinetar got it right in the title of her book: 'Do What You Love and The Money Will Follow'.

The word 'networking' may have the word 'work' in it, but it's best done when you're having fun at it!

Meeting people through events where networking is not the primary focus has proven to be a most successful strategy for attracting people to this distinctly different kind of connection venue.


To learn more about their Connecticut programs or, to learn more about how to bring the Atlantic Social Club to your area and fulfill the function that Colleen and Ileen have envisioned for it, you can contact Colleen Ferrary online at: or by phone at: (860) 233-5300.


Bill Doerr is CCO of SellMore Marketing. He helps professionals and other service providers to market their problem-solving expertise simply, effectively and affordably.

You can reach him at, by email at or by phone at 860-798-6964.

For more please see
Bill's TNNW Bio.

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Martin W. Jennings said...

Excellent points! Extremely poignant! It re-awakens the "can-do" attitude at a time when there is way to much "can't do" going around as a pandemic. Dreams are necessary for a happy life, yet if there's no action to materialize or manifest the dream, negative habits return and exacerbate the "can't do" attitude. This cycle is what needs to be broken and it takes deliberate and concentrated discipline, which sounds like work but ends in joy.

Martin Jennings (

Philippe Gadeyne said...

Great story that reminds us what we too often forget in the hussle and bussle of life, the everyday grind and worries takes over our dreams and we slowly stop living and start dying.
By the way, Bali is in Indonesia, not Polynesia

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