Single in the Suburbs: Untraditional Speed Dating

On Thursday night I had the chance to attend an event with the local group Mingle Around Chicago.  I have been following this networking and social events organization for almost two years now, and have been fascinated by its growth.  I am also impressed by the founder and owner, Jill Jackson, who I first met at one of her Singles Nuts and Bolts parties in May 2011.  She took the time to greet each person who attended her party when they walked through the door, and she was there all evening to make sure her guests were interacting.  A big part of these parties is having a good host or hostess — single parties where no one knows each other can be awkward, and even worse if no one is there to lovingly prod you along.  More importantly, Jill seems to genuinely care about her customers and their experience.

Since I plan to write a feature about Jill for Career Girl Network, I wanted to attend another one of her parties and witness how she works firsthand.  Once again, Jill hosted a great event where everyone felt comfortable and welcome.  Even better, she created an event that was not the traditional one-on-one speed dating.  Instead, she hosted a “Night of Laughter” in which singles speed dated over board games.  On Thursday, the game was Telestrations.

I sat the whole night at a booth with three great women, while the men rotated to play a round of the game with us.  I never go into these events with the mindset that I will leave with a new boyfriend or even a date, but I was very pleased to have hit it off with the women I was sitting with.  The environment was such that the women didn’t feel as if they were competing each other, but as if they were all just making friends.  By the end of the night, I was at a table with the girls continuing our conversation over drinks, while mingling with some of the other guests.

Of course, since it was a speed dating event, we each had cards and numbers.  At the end of the night, we had to sneakily mark yes or no for each of the men we had met.  I was so busy talking that I didn’t have a chance to mark the card until an hour after the event had ended!  I was amazed and pleased with how many interesting and friendly people really are out there when you simply get out.

So, even if you are like me and extremely nervous to attend an event like this, it is worth it.  Everyone else is there for the same reason as you: to meet more people.  You really can’t go wrong.  If there’s someone you don’t like or who makes you uncomfortable, you simply don’t interact with them — though I have found that the event organizers are very good at making sure everyone is comfortable.

I’ll continue my adventures in the city and suburbs over the next few weeks.  I am signed up for networking events, social outings, brunches, and parties.

Check out Mingle Around’s Meetup page.  You can also visit the Mingle Around website to become a member.  If you don’t want the pressure of a singles party hanging over your head, you can also check out Mingle Around’s sister site, Venture Around — a group for those who just want to meet new people and explore all Chicago has to offer.

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