I haven’t had a first date in nearly seven years and I haven’t had a formal job interview in at least two. Combine both of these potentially awkward situations and you have a professional speed dating event, hosted by the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists in Bloomington, Minn.
I look around the ballroom. The lights are turned down low, white tablecloths drape each speed date stop and candles flicker between two chairs facing each other. Freelancers are munching on appetizers, enjoying beverages and making small talk (or as one freelancer describes it – chewing glass.)
“Four minutes until the first group starts!”
My heart beats faster and my breath quickens.
“Speed daters – get to your first table!”
The editor for my first table actually doesn’t make it on time, so I just sit back for the first three minutes and became comfortable in my surroundings. I look at the magazines in attendance and become more excited than nervous. I spot a business publication and think, “I have experience with that type of writing.” I see a few lifestyle magazines and I think of the samples in my portfolio. I get excited about what I can offer each magazine.
The bell rings over the speaker system.
“Three minutes are up! Switch!”
I make my way to my first editor. She is representing a recognized business publication. We hit it off right away and continue talking even after the three minutes are up. I am amazed at how many people I click with right away. But with a few, the seconds tick by and three minutes has never felt longer. I don’t think we’re soul mates.
With the last two editors I have face time with, we get so chatty that they ask me to stay for a second three-minute round because there’s no one in line. I pitch ideas as 24 other freelancers do the same. The energy in the room is high, even at the end of our round.
When it’s over and I finally start to wind down for the evening, I think of story pitches I have swirling in my head. I stop and notice my content smile.
Yep, I have the perfect home in mind for a story I caught last week.