Group Tries to Take the Work Out of Networking

February 9, 2011  |  

(Chicago Tribune) — A Chicago Bears fan, Dwayne Hirsch was happy when he was finally able to get together a group of friends to watch the games on TV. What he found at the get-togethers, however, was that a lot of time was spent talking about work and career dreams.  Hirsch, a radio exec, thought, “Why not bring these like-minded people, many of them small-business owners, together to network?” He and AnDrea “Fuzzy” Dixon, a bartender who already was organizing a Monday-night networking event at a South Loop bar, turned it into an event that combined socializing over pizza and drinks and formal business pitches.  That was two years ago. The free event, Business Spotlight Network, outgrew the South Loop location, and Hirsch moved it to the Red Kiva lounge in the West Loop, where 50 to 150 people attend the meetups each Tuesday night. He also changed the format, setting it up like a talk show. The Crete resident says he has plans to start a south suburban event this spring on a different night.  Presenters varied, from a pastor to a magician to politicians, said Hirsch, 39, development director for Real Estate on Radio. There’s a waiting list to get onstage, he said.  “Tonight, we have an artsy theme,” Hirsch said, picking up the microphone on Red Kiva’s small stage on a recent Tuesday. He and Dixon are co-hosts, jumping in with questions to keep the presenters on their toes.

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