Friday morning, amidst the chaos of work, I am asked to cover a soirée later the same evening, organised by The Networking Club. I am not sure what to expect, but I am looking forward to it as I make my way through Karachi’s bustling traffic and reach Côte Rôtie which is my destination.
At the reception, I am greeted by Andleeb Rana, one of the three hosts of the evening. Rana is in charge of the event design and the guest list. She introduces me to Faisal Kapadia, the second host of the evening who looks after the business and the PR side of The Networking Club. The third host, Saad Zuberi, is in charge of the content. All three have come together to form The Networking Club. Rana’s idea, and the goal of the club, is to create a space where Karachi’s movers and shakers can come together after work and network. “People only hang out with people they know; communities don’t mingle or support other communities,” she says.
An evening at the Networking Club means that artists get to meet advertisers, entrepreneurs meet filmmakers, photographers meet journalists, activists meet influencers and so on. The idea is for people to meet people they have not met before. “The guests are carefully handpicked – creds to Andleeb – and the guest list is never repeated,” says Kapadia. However, according to Rana, “if someone wants to come to the next meetup, they can register for our membership.” The membership is exclusive and, so far, includes seven to eight members.
The age group of the attendees is 30 years upwards and Kapadia stresses that “this is not a Y2K club.” The soirées are strictly meant to give professionals opportunities to meet other professionals; people they may not find within their regular work settings.
Among the buzzing and chattering guests, I spot Martin Dawson, Head of Mission at the British Deputy High Commission, PR guru Fareshteh Aslam, and journalist Maria Memon, among many others. I also spot Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Junior, who tells me that “as an introvert, I always stick to my group; it is good to be in a setting that makes it easy to approach people and interact with them.” Fashion photographer Tapu Javeri chimes in with “it’s a great initiative. I have met people that I had not before.”
Apart from the closely curated guest list, the timing is another component that Rana emphasises, “It’s from five to eight, right after a routine day at work and before you resume your routine evening at home – it is kind of like a happy hour, an escape.” Rana says eight o’clock is the perfect time to wrap up; she doesn’t want The Networking Club to become a “party club.”
Tonight’s event is sponsored by Hemani, which Rana says is an exciting prospect. “Usually, you see brands like Coca-Cola and Pepsi powering social events like these, so I am psyched that a brand like Hemani believed in my idea and came on board with us.”
Hemani’s Head of Sales & Marketing, Kumail Haider, is of the opinion that for a shariah compliant brand like his, collaborating in an event such as this one is out of the box. Sabeen Ahmed, Brand & Marketing Manager, Hemani, adds “it opens a new window for the brand to explore and adds a new layer to Hemani’s brand profile.”
The next soirée will take place next month and Rana has plans to extend The Networking Club to Lahore and Islamabad.