“It’s who you know.” For Laurie Brinkman, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber program manager, that’s her mantra. In fact, she has her current job thanks to her trusty Rolodex.
Brinkman had been in the hotel industry for 15 years in sales and catering. “The day I was laid off, first, I got myself together and then called six contacts I had met through networking,” she recalls. “Chris Gentry at the Chamber was one of them. Turns out, she was putting in her notice that day, she left on good terms and put in a recommendation for me. Two months later I got the job. It was really meant to be.”
At the Chamber, she currently manages eight different programs and events throughout the year. One of those programs is the “Leadership Exchange” for which she was recently selected to be the logistics manager. This puts Brinkman solely in charge of transporting 50 CEOs from Cincinnati to Minneapolis. In addition, she coordinates programming for the CEOs to see what it’s like to work in other cities, so they can bring their lessons learned back home to better Cincinnati’s business community.
A group of 50 busy, bustling CEOs doesn’t phase Brinkman, though. She’s seen all kinds. Actually, that’s what sets her apart. “When you’re in a certain field for 15 years, you get to know so many different types of personalities,” she explains. “I learned how to get along with everyone from the bride to the corporate person. I seem to be able to morph into what the different personalities demand.”
But no matter the personality she’s working with, she always offers service with a smile. “I’m a very excitable person,” Brinkman says. “I have been told that I have a contagious attitude. Once I get excited about something, it bubbles over to other people. I think that’s what draws people to a lot of my events.”
It’s true. At her last Morning Mixer of 2008, which she coordinated and held at the Banker’s Club downtown, there wasn’t an empty seat in the room. “I make it the best it can be, and that helps people feel like it’s an electrifying event,” she says.
Maybe one of the things that helps her keep a smile on her face is that she doesn’t sweat the small stuff. “It doesn’t help to worry. That’s a big lesson I’ve learned along the way,” Brinkman laughs. “And I have to keep reminding myself of that lesson every day.”
Photo: Amy Storer-Scalia