Making new connections, sharing lessons from Smart 50

It’s always nice to recognize the innovations of others, but perhaps even more valuable is when you can exchange knowledge and make new connections.

Now in its second year, the Smart 50 Awards, presented by Chase, bring together like-minded leaders who are making a difference in the sustainability and growth for the Pittsburgh region.

At last year’s event I heard positive feedback about the ability to make connections more than any other feature of the night. Comments such as: “Everyone in the room seemed energized to be there and the networking opportunities were great” weren’t unusual.

It’s motivating to find out what others are doing, especially when they are so excited to talk about it.

Inspiring stories

I got a preview of this at the judging panel in October, where many of the 50 winners vied for three additional specialty awards, which will be announced at the event.

I heard a number of great stories. Some of my favorites included companies who looked outside of their industry for solutions, or organizations where the importance of the higher mission shined through every word about the business. Who wouldn’t want to give it their all for a company that is saving the world — even if it’s just a little bit at a time?

Another strength of many of these smart organizations is bringing parties together and helping everyone create change. This is especially true for the nonprofit winners. Collaboration isn’t just a buzzword for them; it’s central to their identity.

I also noticed an emphasis on execution and coming through on what they promised, whether that’s improving customer delivery or just saying “I’d rather be hit by a bus than miss a deadline.”

Listen and learn

I’m always energized after the Smart 50 judging panels because you get to hear so many cool ideas. These business leaders talk about their products or a really interesting concept, and your first thought is, “Wow, that makes so much sense. I wish I’d thought of that.”

So, if you’re coming to the Smart 50 event — or at your next networking opportunity — make sure that you meet as many people as you can. Listen and learn about the amazing things that organizations are doing in the Pittsburgh region.

Yes, networking is ideally about generating sales opportunities for you and your company, but it’s also a great way to energize yourself by exchanging knowledge.