A seasoned crowd of chic South Florida professionals filled the swanky M-Bar at the Mandarin Oriental with a positive, productive din Thursday evening. The premiere happy hour event, a collaboration between one of the city’s hautest hotels and SoBizMiami to benefit the Voices For Children Foundation, Inc., gave professionals an opportunity to loosen their ties after a long day and do a little networking in the name of charity.
“Voices For Children is our charity of choice and we do their annual gala every year, so it actually worked out perfectly that we could tie the happy hour into the benefit,” said Leonor Cuadra, Executive Meeting Manager for the Mandarin Oriental, Miami. “I am so thrilled that we had such an amazing turnout tonight.”
Will Placencia of SoBizMiami, South Florida’s burgeoning social business networking calendar and blog site, is also on the board at Voices For Children and was responsible for arranging the successful event, sure to be the first of many more to come at the Mandarin. Their goal is to facilitate business networking by providing up-to-date listings about social and professional networking from Miami-Dade to Palm Beach County.
“I found out that people were using networking as a way to get business, but there was no one place where everybody would come to find out what events were going on, so I made a blog that ended up graduating into a calendar,” said SoBizMiami founder and Chief Creative Officer Ivan Mladenovic. He also runs an IT consulting company, Preemo: Media+Technologies, which he founded in 2008. “It exploded into a following of people looking for other people’s events, and eventually I decided to do my own. I filter my events so that I don’t have nightlife type events or art events—it’s very specific to business professionals. Most of the people that attend are bankers and attorneys. They come for two hours, they network and they go home. The purpose of it is to generate business and have something to talk about tomorrow morning. You come into the office with fresh business cards, fresh new leads, and fresh people to talk to.”
For something that’s just a side job, business appears to be booming for the company, which Mladenovic calls the “perfect social media science project”. In the midst of the social media networking phenomenon that has taken the world by storm, I’d say he’s on a pretty safe path.
A suggested donation of $10 or more was asked of attendees and all proceeds for the evening went to benefit the Voices For Children Foundation, Inc., an organization that aims to raise funds to ensure that every abused and neglected child in Miami-Dade County has a court-appointed guardian and that financial assistance and other resources are available for their accompanying health, educational, and social needs.
“I love what I do. I love the fact that we’re changing lives, we’re redirecting futures, making an impact and working with a segment of the population that usually goes unheard,” said Nelson Hincapie, President and CEO of the Voices For Children Foundation. “We, through the Guardian Ad Litem program, represent every one of the children who is in foster care in their court proceedings, so it’s vital that we exist and we do it with community volunteers which gives everybody in the community a chance to do something for somebody. There is no greater feeling in the world than knowing that you did something for someone.”
Needless to say, the event was a huge success and definitely did a little something for everyone involved. I even left with a few business cards myself.