By Emily Merrell & Elizabeth Roberts
For the month of December, we’re taking a moment to give the blog over to our members. Some are newbies, some are seasoned: all have a unique story about their time with SDS and the connections they’ve made along the way. We’re so impressed by how they’ve attended events and made friendships that contributed to both their professional and personal lives. If you’re interested in joining our community, which gives access to unlimited events throughout our participating cities, please check out membership options here.
A Note From SDS Founder, Emily Merrell:
Having known Neela nearly a year I can’t imagine our life without her. She found us at the pinnacle time of transition into entrepreneurship and it’s been an incredible pleasure watching her business flourish and her friendships blossom. I can’t wait for you to learn more about her below.
SDS: What do you do and how long have you been a member of SDS?
SDS: How did you hear about us?
NA: I met another SDS member at a networking event and she was a SDS guest speaker about a year ago. Through her promoting it, I saw she was speaking on behalf of SDS about videography. I had been going to other networking groups (Ivy, Ellevate, etc.) – I was kind of doing everything.
But then I got a phone call from Emily Merrell and she encouraged me to go to a couple other events. I was meeting super cool people and then I hung out with some of the girls from SDS. A lot of my close friends work in the corporate world so meeting people who live the same lifestyle you do when you work for yourself is refreshing.
SDS: What was your favorite event with SDS and why?
NA: Two immediately come to mind. The first is the event “You’re Not Lost” with Maxie McCoy. I brought a friend who was visiting from out of town, it was a great turnout – almost 70 people. I think it spoke to everyone in the room even if backgrounds and work routines are different. The way Moxie herself presented the topic of being fearful but a badass related to everyone. It set a precedent.
I also loved the one in October, “Your Worth Is Worth Negotiating”. I brought a few friends who aren’t members and they were really amazed because this is a conversation that’s not talked about often. One girl got super emotional and it was nice to see that transparency.
SDS: What has membership given you (new connections, skills)? What are you looking to learn?
NA: The ability to bring friends with me creates a unique and dynamic experience. I feel like SDS events break down a lot of social rules that people put up in normal conversations. Being a SDS member has taught me to feel super comfortable, especially in networking and coworking types of events. Now it’s not about the elevator speech anymore, I can just connect with someone on a personal level.
Even if you don’t have the same day-to-day, you can talk about restaurants, working out, etc. There are so many other commonalities aside from differences. It nails down the whole concept of that awkward moment of thinking, “Who should I talk to?” It’s not about the business card, it’s about people.
SDS: How have you grown, professionally and/or personally, since you started your SDS membership?
NA: People in New York are creatures of habit. Yesterday I was working from 7am-8pm which doesn’t always happen, but I signed up to go to a SDS event because it takes me out of my day-to-day norm. It breaks up what you normally plan for yourself. It’s committing to a cool opportunity or experience that you wouldn’t normally set out for yourself. I loved the whiskey tasting with Macallan Manor – I never would have known about that and I loved it.
SDS: Who would you recommend SDS to?
NA: Anyone, honestly! Anyone who is open-minded who wants to learn how to put down that wall. Something I’ve learned from working for myself is breaking down that initial barrier when you’re talking to someone for the first time.