Valerie McSorley | No More Awkward Networking Events 

New clients, new strategic partners, new jobs – that’s what should happen when you go to a networking event.

But too often, says Valerie McSorley, typical networking involves nothing more than time-wasting chit-chat and awkward conversations.

Valerie, a veteran event producer (she founded Avant Garde Events, among several other companies) has a system to help attendees speak with only the right people – and watches fruitful relationships form as a result.

Learn how to stop handing out business cards to random strangers and start forging deep connections that can turn into real opportunities at the next event you attend.

We also talk about…

  • Creating a solid “pipeline” of new clients
  • Today’s hottest topics in customer service and customer contact
  • Contributing to worthy causes in ways beyond financial
  • The best way to “navigate the room” at an event
  • And more


David Elmasian: Welcome to the Hub of Success, I’m your host David Elmasian. Today I’m with Valerie McSorley, president and founder of Avant Garde Events, founder and executive producer of Contact Centered Nation, founder of Coardial Connections, and executive director of Boston Women in Media and Entertainment. Avant Garde Events is the premier event planning service that Valerie founded over 20 years ago. The focus is on harnessing the power of personal connections, connecting organizations and individuals to new clients, sales opportunities, and partnerships. Coardial Connections features Valerie’s patent pending, facilitated business introductions over lunch. It’s a guided event that takes the stress and awkwardness out of most networking events and makes it more comfortable and effective to all participants. Lastly, as executive director of Boston Women in Media and Entertainment, Valerie brings her organization skills to the table be it planning and organizing the numerous events they put on and helping fulfill their core values of strong women lifting each other up. Welcome to the podcast Valerie.

Valerie McSorley: Thank you, thank you for having me here.

David Elmasian: Did I hit all the things that you do? Because you do a lot.

Valerie McSorley: I do, I wear a lot of hats, that’s for sure. That’s for sure, thank you.

David Elmasian: Not a lot of downtime for you.

Valerie McSorley: No, not these days. Not in busy season.

David Elmasian: No, so Valerie, tell me about event planning and how’d you get started with that?

Valerie McSorley: I feel like it’s been in my blood as long as I can remember. I’m the oldest of four so you wear a lot of hats when you’re the oldest. Actually going back my grandmother was in very humble beginnings with planning events with her job. Some days she would just take me along with her and we would go and I always thought it was very exciting. I remember just really nice family memories when there’s the hustle and bustle when you’re getting ready for the holidays and planning a big family event, and it was always a lot of fun. I always loved that. Then when I got to college I was the social chair for the sorority and we started to do a lot with fundraising. I got to see really how you could make an impact with your community and how you could be the role of philanthropy, and just really starting to take it to a next level and that’s really around the time that events was becoming more of part of every corporate marketing plan. It wasn’t always there like it is today.

David Elmasian: Right, yes so let’s go back. Was it personal events your grandmother organized or did she actually do company events or that kind of thing?

Valerie McSorley: She would take me with her when she had big events at her job.

David Elmasian: Really?

Valerie McSorley: Yes.

David Elmasian: That’s so cool.

Valerie McSorley: It was awesome.

David Elmasian: It literally is in your blood.

Valerie McSorley: Literally yes.

David Elmasian: Do you remember the first event that somebody paid you to organize and put on?

Valerie McSorley: Of course, of course, so going back I knew that I wanted to do something in events. When I graduated college I also knew that I wanted to start my own business and always knew I wanted to work for myself. I tried to tailor my experience base up and just get as much experience as I could. I worked for a non-profit, I worked for a commercial real estate company that did all kinds of big open houses and commercial premiers. I worked for a trade show company in New York City and I produced conferences in another organization in New York City. I produced conferences all over the county. A lot of that work I still do today, but I wanted to really take and learn everything I could on site from the ground up, from incredible mentors.

My last corporate job was one of the premier healthcare companies in Massachusetts and then I was doing all of their sales and marketing, all of their sports packages with the Celtics, the Bruins, the Red Sox, and the Patriots. There was a boatload, and I knew, it was around the time I was getting married and I knew that I wanted to give myself about two years to get started to build a book of business before I started a family because there’s no way to go pound the pavement with a newborn.

David Elmasian: It definitely makes it a little more difficult. A lot of people look at events at just at the stuff that they participate in. They sit down, maybe they have a meal, they have a cocktail reception, educational stuff, that kind of thing. Give us an insider’s view, what happens in the background? What are the things that people wouldn’t necessarily think that you get involved with being an event planner?

Valerie McSorley: Well there’s really nothing happens at a lot of the events that don’t come through my hands or my desk. I’m an event producer, so what that really means is I put together everything from the content, the agenda, picking out the venue, selecting the menu. But then I also do a lot with the marketing, sponsors are a huge part of what I do, managing the attendees, overseeing the onsite staff as well as my own staff. Bringing everything to life, really having a vision and executing, but also making sure that things happen as you want them to happen is-

David Elmasian: Challenging?

Valerie McSorley: Is quite a lot, quite a lot. I just listened to your opening. I’m like, “Oh my goodness, this is a lot. This is a lot.” I have to really love it and this is my passion and making things happen. I think I do this under the backdrop of events, but at the real core of me is putting people together, that’s the work that lights me up. You’ve been to one of my events.

David Elmasian: Yes.

Valerie McSorley: Dave you should really meet Fred, and Fred you should really meet Paul. Taking people around and then seeing the results, and that’s what actually got me really excited when I was first starting is seeing how putting these people together in the right space. Then I was reading press releases about this company and that company, and I knew because I saw them having breakfast before the conference got started at 7:00 in the morning and seeing how these strategic partnerships were taking place.

David Elmasian: Well it’s funny you mention that. Like you mentioned, I recently attended one of your events and I made a comment to the woman that was sitting next to me. I said, “Valerie’s a match maker.” She started laughing. It’s true, when we’re at one of your events that’s exactly what you’re doing, you’re matching people up. In this case not matching up romantically but you’re matching them up business wise. You’re really good at saying, “You need this. You need this. You’re a match.” Maybe somebody that they work with or what have you. That’s something that is unique, you don’t see that in most … Again I’m using the term event planner for lack of a better term. Did you just stumble across that or is that something that came naturally to you?

Valerie McSorley: Well it’s interesting. Really there’s two ways I can answer that. When I first got started, when I wanted to build my business, I built my business from scratch. Homemade card literally, had a client within the first week. Hit the pavement and we got off to a start. What I found over time was I had a little bit of a budget to get started, and I decided I could take this money in invest it in some marketing and advertising, which felt super risky to me because if the phone didn’t ring I’d be back to work at my corporate gig in a hot minute. That just felt so risky. What I did was I took what I had and I joined a few organizations. I felt like I needed to make some connections for myself.

That really led me down a very interesting path because not every group that I thought sounded good on paper really worked for me. I joined one industry organization, an association that I thought would be great, well it was just a room full of my competitors and a bunch of vendors that were trying to sell me things for clients that didn’t exist. That was a little awkward. What I realized over time was I didn’t really start to … I needed to make the phone ring. I didn’t really get the phone ringing until I put myself in rooms of business people that didn’t know any event people and they didn’t know who to call, and that’s when I started to get some momentum and that worked really well.

This led me down this path about how to really introduce people and how to facilitate the role of the personalized introduction, and I was going to all these events and I was getting frustrated because I was looking around at these rooms full of people, but navigating the room was very difficult and awkward. It was also you couldn’t move past what you’re describing, you couldn’t move past the chit chat to get down to talking business. I wanted to create an environment where it was comfortable to get to be able to talk about what you do and how you can help them.

David Elmasian: What you’re referring to is Coardial Connections, correct?

Valerie McSorley: Right, exactly.

David Elmasian: Okay, so for those that never been to a Coardial Connections, and if they haven’t they should be, describe what the process is like because for most of us, myself included, when you hear networking event you think of some of the stuff that you just described, a bunch of people hawking stuff, shoving business cards in your face, having to walk up and have that awkward conversation or worse, have somebody come up to you and have an awkward conversation. You just want to leave. Your events, especially your Coardial Connection events, are different. What makes them different? Fill in the blanks for people that have never attended or haven’t attended yet.

Valerie McSorley: Sure, so I never realized how loaded of a word networking is and really people don’t like it.

David Elmasian: No.

Valerie McSorley: They don’t enjoy the process because of what you’re describing. I’m sort of the anti of all of that. I don’t subscribe to just large groups of people being thrown in a room. I take you through this process where when you come in you see a list of who’s in the room, so you get to without even putting on your name tag yet you get a firm understanding of who’s in the room. If you see a name on the list and you’d like to meet them you just let me know, I take you personally by the hand and I introduce you. That’s before we even get started. We sit down, we have a little lunch, and we go through a process. That’s why Coar in Coardial is spelled a little funky, it’s an acronym and it stands for communicate, offer, ask, and receive.

We go around the room and we introduce ourselves, and we take this process and then we get to learn, by doing that, a little bit about everybody in the room. That’s where you feel a shift in the room. I can always feel a shift in the energy when you get about halfway through because you see people getting excited about who they want to talk to. Then we open up the room again and then you get to connect one to one and then it’s much more comfortable about why you came here. Because in your typical day you’d be talking about … What are we talking about right now? The weather, politics, the Red Sox Yankee game last night, you’re talking about anything but just to chit chat.

David Elmasian: Of course, yes yes, and so the key word that you hit upon and that you’ve succeeded in achieving is removing a lot of that awkwardness from those types of events. Like I said, like many business owners you feel compelled and you want to attend those events because you have that carrot dangling in front of you, the hey, maybe I can get a customer or maybe I can meet somebody who can get me a customer. Obviously we all want that, but then you think to yourself, “Do I have to go up and give this great speech? Do I have to have the perfect pitch? Do I have to meet people that are trying to sell me stuff?” And all that, and so like I said, what you’ve come up with is really, really unique and it removes that awkwardness. More importantly, the end results are so much better because now the people that want to talk to each other know who they are, they can talk, and it’s not a forced thing where they feel like, “Oh, I have to talk to everybody, or worse, somebody has to feel like they have to talk to me.”

It’s okay, I mean one of the things that came out of the event, like I said, that I attended recently is there were some people I said hi to and all that, but I didn’t have a long conversation with them because I knew, just as well as they did, there’s not a good connection there. We could still be friends, we could still like each other, but we just knew that it’s not beneficial for both of us so why bother.

Valerie McSorley: Yes, and you’re touching on three different things that are so important because it’s opened up … The results have been proven. We’ve seen new clients, new strategic partners, we’ve seen jobs, which there’s nothing I’m more proud of. We’ve gotten people brand new jobs. I mean that’s super fulfilling and rewarding for me to see that. We’ve gotten media interviews just like this one. We’ve had so many different things. The other piece of that is trusted new business partners and colleagues and advisors. Not everybody’s your client, we all know that, but when you have a client that needs something, you have some really good resources in your back pocket to steer them in the right direction. I think we can both relate to the idea of being top of mind with our clients. We don’t sell gift baskets, they’re not buying every day, but when we want them to think of us we want to be top of mind. If we can connect them to the right people they’re always thinking of us.

David Elmasian: Like you said, you and I are both in similar businesses in the sense that we don’t create demand for our services, people have to have a need and then when they have that needs that’s when they want to think of us. Not, like I said, other businesses where a restaurant, put an ad out there say, “Hey, buy our sandwiches, 20% off today.” Sure great, you can bring people through the door that way but in my business, if everything is working technology wise they’re not going to call us up and say, “Dave, come on over.” “Why?” “Well everything’s working great but we want to spend some money.” Sure I’d love for that to happen and same thing with you. Unless they have an event or an idea in mind, it has to be talked about first and then, like you said, they want to speak to you. I think it’s fantastic what you’ve been able to create there because, not to name names, but both of us have been through a lot of awkward, miserable networking events. Some that start 7:00 in the morning and again we won’t name names.

Valerie McSorley: Yes, I was a former president yes. Yes, then I had a baby. 7:00 a.m. and newborns no, does not add up, no.

David Elmasian: Yes, that’s not fun. Going back to your beginnings a little bit, again I warned you, I did some stalking on you on the internet. It’s all good stuff. I’m going to quote you. You said in an interview, “As an entrepreneur you can work 60 hours a week and not make a dime, but you need to believe in your abilities and do whatever it takes to make it happen. I never gave up. If someone says no to me at the front door I’ll go to the back door or I’ll find a window or a chimney. Making it happen, whatever it takes, is a must.” I bring that up because number one, that’s a huge testament to what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur like yourself. The other reason I brought it up is a lot of people either have started a business or want to start a business and maybe they’re listening to this and we’ve all been there.

You do put 60 hours a week sometimes, many times, maybe 80 hours. At the end of the week guess what? No money, right? You pay your bills and hopefully, and then there’s nothing left over. A, why did you say that and B, why do you keep doing it? I know why I keep doing it and people say I’m crazy, and especially my wife at times, but what motivates you? What keeps you going when you have those types of challenges?

Valerie McSorley: Well I think that it’s absolutely true, I think that there’s a misconception that you’re going to hang a shingle and be a millionaire in the first two years. You have to know where the money’s coming from and you have to know where to spend your time. You have to have, like I’ve built with this portion of my business, a solid pipeline. Because, like you’re describing, in professional services it’s unlikely people are doing a Google search and are just going to call you up. That very rarely happens. It’s all word of mouth, knock on wood I’ve been very blessed. Every time that one project’s wrapping there just seems to … The right thing falls into place at the right time. I also developed my own series of things, that aren’t client driven, so I have a pretty good balance of different revenue streams. I would say anyone has to think about that because it can’t just be all client driven waiting for the phone to ring. You’ve got to get out there and make the phone right, and I think a lot of people don’t roadmap successfully. Where does the money come from?

I do this a lot with clients, especially with the events when they have a lofty goal to reach. Okay, well we want to make X, where is it coming from? If you can’t roadmap that back you’re in trouble because there’s so many events, there’s so many opportunities, everyone’s looking at the same pool of sponsors and opportunities. What makes you different? What makes you unique? Know when and where to spend your time. As entrepreneurs, I just had a call with someone this morning, the biggest challenge is how to price yourself, what do you charge? Answering those questions out of the gate was probably one of the hardest things.

David Elmasian: Of course yes. Pricing seems simple but it can be just a nightmare, right? You don’t want to overprice, you don’t want to underprice, is it fair, is it not fair? One of the things that came out of that quote that I just love because it created such a great visual was, if somebody says no at the front door I’ll go to the back door, I’ll climb through the chimney. What that says to me is you have to have a high degree of belief in what you’re doing and you’re going to get no’s, you’re going to have disappointment, you’re going to have failures. Not every customer or prospect is going to turn into a customer, right? Have you ever had a customer or prospect say no to you Valerie? Of course. I know in my business we certainly have, but you can’t just give up, you have to keep pursuing it, persisting, and like you said, look at maybe some of the reasons. Persistence is a huge benefit and you need that, and it sounds like it’s not just what you’re saying, it’s how you live and work your business.

Then the last part, I think you’re not giving yourself enough credit. What I mean by that is it’s not luck that you always have something lined up. As we all know it doesn’t just happen by itself. Actions that you take today, yesterday, or the day before aren’t always going to be our fruit those days, it’s down the road. Again, I think you’re underscoring or underselling the activity and the involvement that you have. I know, obviously, this doesn’t happen by accident. Speaking about groups and associations, in that intro, of the 14 different things that you’re involved in in any given time, one of your niches for lack for a better term is contact center and customer service. It’s something that, like I said, actually was something near and dear to my heart in a former life, in a former career, but how did you develop that niche and how did it all get going? Fill in the details on that.

Valerie McSorley: Yes sure, so I think what you’re describing is a bit of a thick skin, which I think anyone who-

David Elmasian: There you go, yes.

Valerie McSorley: Yes, that’s the necessity. I think anyone that you’re going to put yourself out there you have to just sometimes the answer is no and you shake it off, nothing’s personal, it’s business. I started actually I was a conference producer in New York City and I was doing events once every three weeks I was in a different city. I loved that work. I absolutely loved it. Be anywhere from a two to four day event with all kinds of speakers and key notes and sponsors and displays. I just loved that work and that was really what lit me up. I loved doing that work. That was, like I said when I was working in New York. When I moved to Boston I tried to still work for that company remotely and it just didn’t work. I’ve always liked developing an agenda and the content and the learning and all of those pieces.

I started working with an organization here locally and I just developed a very niche portfolio. I worked with another organization that was national, I worked with another organization that was also here, pretty niche but they have a presence in other places. I just started to develop this portfolio, and as time has evolved I mean the whole industry has grown up with it that now I’ve moved beyond just doing things here locally and I have a four city tour, and we do where there’s high concentrations of these centers. We do a stop in Phoenix, Chicago, we just wrapped one in Boston and we have one coming up in Miami where there’s high concentrations of these centers. It’s a very underserved need, which I think as an entrepreneur, see a need fill a need.

David Elmasian: Right, sometimes going where everybody else is not going gives you a competitive advantage, right? At these conferences, I know you hit on some of the big topics, but do they all tend to be big multi-day events, are they individual sessions, or is this all of the above?

Valerie McSorley: This particular tour series is a series of half-day events. They’re in the afternoon like 1:00 to 5:00 and the content and the issues that we discuss are very much the same across geographic region and across industry. What’s different is the cast of characters that we line up at each spot to participate. They tend to be a car ride away for folks to go to.

David Elmasian: What are some of the hot topics in that field right now? What are they interested in I guess is really what I’m asking?

Valerie McSorley: There’s so many. Customer experience, customer journey, chat, artificial intelligence, the cloud, culture, omni channel experience, end to end seamless customer experience. There’s so many different pieces and then there’s really cutting edge technology like voice prints is coming up on the future. There’s so many, there’s no shortage of-

David Elmasian: Don’t get all geeky on me now.

Valerie McSorley: I know, I know, I geek out a little bit. I’m sorry.

David Elmasian: That’s a niche that you’ve really developed and you have a broad base, a lot of clients in that area, so that requires travel and I’m sure a lot of work behind the scenes. Let’s move on to one of your other hats, Boston Women in Media and Entertainment. It’s an organization that I’m familiar with. I know prior to your current position in the organization as executive director, previously you were on the board of directors, am I correct in that?

Valerie McSorley: Yes.

David Elmasian: How did you get involved in BWME?

Valerie McSorley: Candy, Candy O’Terry, Candy-

David Elmasian: Imagine that.

Valerie McSorley: Candy has a real magical power about her and Candy asks you to do something you do it. I was working with Candy, I used to do an awful lot of events with non-profits and fundraising, and particularly with breast cancer. One of my best friends died of breast cancer at 34, diagnosed at 26. I channeled a lot of my grief and did a lot of fundraising for the cause. I got the great opportunity to work with Candy many years ago, and after it was over she called and she said, “I’d like to ask you to do something.” I was like, “Yes, the answer’s yes.” I didn’t know what she was going to ask me but I’m saying yes.

David Elmasian: She does have that magical ability, yes.

Valerie McSorley: Oh yes, I’ve seen it a million times, it’s awesome. She asked me to become a member to her group, so I started going to her group. I met her and Dayla, and just over time things evolved. I became a board member and now they asked me to … Really the beginning of this year I sat down and became their managing director and handle a lot of the day in day out stuff and work with they’re members, and we’re actually right now producing the largest event in the history of the organization, about six years old. We’re working on the story behind her success luncheon, it’s coming up in just a week from Friday. We’ve really been able to pull together an amazing lineup of women. I mean Candy has sat down with just … She’s got the most amazing stories, she’s such a gifted storyteller, and she’s just wonderful to be around. In fact, every woman I’ve met at that group is just inspiring, true powerhouse, and I’m just very privileged to be in their company.

David Elmasian: Yes. This great organization I’m familiar with sponsors the story behind her success and again no plug for those people, but yes. More importantly absolutely, two things that you hit on. Number one, any time Candy asks for something you want to say yes. I think part of that, and I’m speaking for myself and I’m sure you’d agree, it’s also because Candy is a giver. When she asks you she’s probably already given you 100 different things and I’m not talking about financially, but more so as she’s done things or given of her time or her resources or what have you. It’s not that you feel like you have to, you want to say yes.

Then the other part too is, like I said, you underscored or undersold a little bit in the involvement and all of the work that BWME does, and for the people that, like I said, that aren’t familiar with it … I touched upon it on the intro a little bit but really, what’s the mission of BWME from your perspective Valerie?

Valerie McSorley: The mission really is access to the pros. We work with a lovely group of women, all related in media and entertainment and there’s a lot of hats that go under that big, big umbrella. We have everything to voice overs, to actresses, to on air talent, to folks that do the AV behind the scenes, makeup people. I mean think about all the different photographers, there’s so many different folks that make up-

David Elmasian: A couple radio personalities in there, too.

Valerie McSorley: A couple, yes.

David Elmasian: A couple.

Valerie McSorley: Couple, yes, a few. There’s so many pieces and now with the role of all the media, social media, every entrepreneur coming through the door really has to know how to present themselves, how to deliver an interview, how to speak, how to look on camera, there’s so many pieces of this. What we have developed is really a community of amazing women to share their time and their talent in their areas of expertise and they are truly, I don’t leave a BWME event where I don’t feel taller and lighter and inspired because it’s just a group of top notch women all at the top of the game. Just like you were saying about Candy, they are so generous and generous doesn’t have to just be money, it’s with their time, their talent, their dedication, their devotion, they’re love, just their willingness to share.

David Elmasian: Resources, connections.

Valerie McSorley: Exactly, exactly, which is so huge, it’s huge. We do a variety of different programming. Like I said, we have this luncheon, which is the biggest one in our history. We tried to get to 150 women. Then we quickly got to 200. Now it looks like we’re going to be selling out at 250, which is really an accomplishment for us because this is the biggest one we’ve ever done. We are really, really proud of that and we’re very thankful for our sponsors, just like yourself, that really help us to make these things a reality.

David Elmasian: Sure, sure, yes no. First of all I don’t want anybody to get the impression, we’re very, very low on the list of sponsorships as far as monetary value goes, and again not to get off topic on this but when Candy, representing BWME, approached me a couple years back about this it was so easy to say yes because of the work that you guys do. Not only that, in today’s world it’s such a positive thing. We have so much negativity in the world, seeing an organization, a group that really focuses and works and creates positive things for people and positively impacts their lives, and ironically most of that comes from people on Candy’s story behind her success. People that have experienced some of the worst things that could happen and they overcome it.

Again, I could talk about that all day long, but it just makes it so easy to want to be part of that and any contribution you can make financial or otherwise, it’s just such a fantastic thing. I’m really looking forward to that event myself too. I’m also looking forward to the part that I’m not involved in the planning on that event in any way, shape, or form. That’s a tall task and I don’t know how you do it Valerie but it’s a lot of work. Let’s switch gears a little bit. You touched upon Boston, New York, if my research is correct did you go to Binghamton University in New York?

Valerie McSorley: You are correct, yes.

David Elmasian: Okay, so why did you choose that? There’s a lot of colleges obviously out there. Was there a particular reason?

Valerie McSorley: I’m born and raised in New York and I always knew I’d wind up at one of the SUNYs, and of the SUNYs there’s four university centers and Binghamton was the top of the list for me. That was where I wanted to go and that’s where I decided I was going and I went.

David Elmasian: Well good, and you mentioned some of your sorority work led to the career that you’re in right now, right? You went to school, born and raised in New York, how’d you make it to the Boston area if you don’t mind me asking?

Valerie McSorley: I came to visit once with my actual freshman year roommate, my first roommate was from Maine and we came to visit her cousin here in Boston for the weekend. It was the weekend of the OJ chase, you remember that day? Everybody remembers where they were watching that on TV.

David Elmasian: The white Bronco, right?

Valerie McSorley: Yes, exactly so we were driving up for the weekend to visit and they lived in this awesome apartment right on Comm Ave and Allston and I thought, “Wow, this is an awesome place. You can just jump right on the train. The city is here.” I’m from New York and it felt like a much scaled down version of the city and just felt management. I thought, “This is not a bad place to start out right after school.” I made plans to come and live here for a while, so I lived here for two years. Then I moved back to New York, and within six months I meet my now husband who’s in the process of moving to Boston.

David Elmasian: That was meant to be.

Valerie McSorley: I came back and it actually was a blessing in disguise because I had already been here, lived here, knew the lay of the land, had my own friends, all those pieces were already here. Had we gone to Chicago I would have known a soul and I wouldn’t know where to go. I can still have my own little world.

David Elmasian: We’re called the Hub of Success, the podcast, and obviously it doesn’t have to be necessarily all Boston based, but one of the questions we ask everybody is A, do you think Boston is a good place to start or operate a business number one, do you think that it is Boston being a good place to start?

Valerie McSorley: I think so. I think there’s a lot of programs. I think there’s more than ever that they’ve done a really nice job in terms of the leadership with the mayor’s office, especially does a lot for women. I think that there’s a lot of opportunity. In terms for what I do for events it’s one of the major cities to drive very large events. It’s a destination city, so yes absolutely.

David Elmasian: Okay, so it sounds like you’re planning on sticking around for a while, huh?

Valerie McSorley: Well you know what’s interesting too Boston is small and people … That can be a positive and a negative, but it is small. If you get into the right circles and you can rely on that word of mouth it does pay dividends.

David Elmasian: Yes, one of our other guests, she travels between New York and Boston. She kind of lives in New York and works in Boston. She made a comment about that too. Obviously, New York is huge, which has a lot of positives to it, but one of the things that she appreciates about Boston, she said literally you can walk down the street and you can meet like-minded individuals because it is relatively a small place. She sees that really as an advantage and a big plus, whereas New York it is very large as you know.

Valerie McSorley: I think that’s another piece of why my networking this has been successful because for all the smallness it can be a little insular. It’s hard to meet people in some of the climate and I don’t just mean the winter.

David Elmasian: Yes.

Valerie McSorley: It’s hard to walk into. I think there’s a miscommunication where I think that New York has that, just as you’re describing, but I feel like it’s a little more, it can even be a little more approachable than I have found Boston to be in certain circles.

David Elmasian: Yes, and again, this is where you’re fulfilling the need. In other words, you’re more sensitive to that because you’ve seen both sides. When Coardial Connections come in, like you said, it’s literally almost a hand holding process, which is great because, like you said, it takes those barriers away and really gets to really why people are there. They’re not there for the coffee, they’re not there for the lunch. Sure those things are nice. They’re really there to make connections, to grow their business, or find somebody. You help facilitate that in a very non-threatening, non-awkward way and I think that’s, like I said, fantastic.

Valerie McSorley: We all have food at home. We all take three hours to drink a cup of coffee with somebody. We don’t have time for this. We got to get down to it.

David Elmasian: All right, well we can talk all day but let’s wrap things up a little bit. Even though we didn’t talk a lot about technology because I don’t like talking about because that happens to be my business, I have to ask every guest. We have a segment called check your tech.

Valerie McSorley: Uh-oh.

David Elmasian: This is easy. I promise. No quizzes, no pop quizzes. Series of quick questions. Just tell me what your thoughts are. Are you a Mac or a PC person?

Valerie McSorley: I get mistaken for a Mac, but I’m really a PC person.

David Elmasian: Oh you get mistaken for a Mac, huh?

Valerie McSorley: People think creative everything’s on a Mac, yes.

David Elmasian: Okay, see I could go there for a while but we won’t. For the mercy of other people that are listening. iPhone or Android?

Valerie McSorley: iPhone.

David Elmasian: iPhone, okay. Facebook or Instagram or Twitter?

Valerie McSorley: Facebook.

David Elmasian: Okay, it doesn’t have to be just one. You can pick more than one.

Valerie McSorley: I’m actually more of a LinkedIn.

David Elmasian: Okay, all right, that’s okay. You don’t have to apologize, it’s okay. This one’s a little geeky. Alexa or Google Home? Do you have either?

Valerie McSorley: We don’t have either. I know, I know it’s on the Christ … We have the holidays coming and-

David Elmasian: Don’t give away any secrets for the kids.

Valerie McSorley: Three birthdays in the house so they’re about to come.

David Elmasian: All right, okay. Netflix or Hulu or both?

Valerie McSorley: Netflix.

David Elmasian: Okay, Roku or Apple TV or Chromecast? Now I said we’re getting a little geeky here, I apologize. These are streaming devices, do you have any of those do you know?

Valerie McSorley: I would say Apple TV.

David Elmasian: Good guess. Gmail or Outlook?

Valerie McSorley: I actually use both.

David Elmasian: Oh okay, all right and this one is the most difficult one. Halloween costumes?

Valerie McSorley: Oh, that’s easy, that’s the easiest one you’ve asked me.

David Elmasian: All right, well come on you going to share?

Valerie McSorley: It’s the easiest one you’ve asked me.

David Elmasian: Or is it a secret?

Valerie McSorley: Halloween is my Christmas, it’s my Super Bowl, my Christmas, this is our everything. My family we all dress up. My birthday’s the day before so my whole life has been a Halloween party. Admittedly we are behind. My two sons just told me I have to get serious about Halloween. We just started decorating, but we we’ve done everything from Star Wars, Peanuts Gang, the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts. We’ve done the Ghost Busters. Last year we were the day of the dead, those crystal skull type of people. We’ve done superheroes, we’ve done SpongeBob, Patrick, and I was pregnant Mrs. Puff. We’ve done it all.

David Elmasian: Halloween is big in your house.

Valerie McSorley: Halloween is huge in our house and actually even if I was 100% certain what we would do I can’t even tell you because everyone … I got to keep them in suspense.

David Elmasian: Of course, yes we don’t want to give away any secrets. Well Valerie what a story. I feel like we could talk for hours. Unfortunately we’re out of time. Before we finish up, could you tell our listeners how to reach you or how to reach you and your business?

Valerie McSorley: Sure, and thank you so much for the opportunity Dave.

David Elmasian: Oh my pleasure.

Valerie McSorley: Thank you, this has been so fun. You can reach me at 617-935-9040. My company is Avant Garde Events. You can also reach me at and also on Facebook.

David Elmasian: Or LinkedIn.

Valerie McSorley: Or LinkedIn.

David Elmasian: There you go.

Valerie McSorley: LinkedIn’s probably the best.

David Elmasian: Well thanks so much Valerie.

Valerie McSorley: This was so fun, thank you.