It was a peaceful and inviting scene at Alfredo Italian byo in Berwyn on Tuesday, June 5th. Stepping inside a tad bit early, I recognized a familiar face in Jennifer Baxter of Philadelphia Media Network. As the Multi-Media Account Executive for the company behind philly.com, Daily News and The Inquirer, she was graciously attending the Meet, Greet, Eat Business Card Exchange to do a little more than talk, introduce and chow down but you’ll have to wait until later to find out why her presence was particularly special.

The Meet, Greet, Eat Business Card Exchanges started in September at Alfredo Italian byo. The always charming owner, Barbara Giannaccari, who also runs Alfredo’s Pizza Kitchen of West Chester and The Newtown Grill, somehow found time between three businesses, a multitude of community events, and children to pull off a personal networking event of her own. However, she didn’t just throw together your average handshaking, booth visiting type of occasion here. Barbara’s Business Card Exchanges at the Berwyn location are a step above other networking events I’ve been to for many reasons.

Barbara makes it a point at each Meet, Greet, Eat to highlight one company and highlight them well. Jennifer Baxter from Philadelphia Media company, whom I introduced earlier, was the featured company representative for this particular June 5th networking event. Although her schedule took an unexpected turn and she wasn’t able to stay the entire time, the featured company representatives at Meet, Greet, Eat are always given 3-5 minutes to speak in front of the business minded crowd. They may casually introduce their company or talk about a special service/product they offer. Promotional material is welcomed for distribution to the crowd as well and since Jennifer had to dash out a little early, we all helped ourselves to the informational tidbits she left behind.

This featured company concept works well. There is not a lot of added pressure on the business to pay for the spot, in fact the entire Business Exchange is FREE for all participators. The organization doesn’t need to bring a banner or a big booth and perform a grand show. It’s simple and yet advantageous for the featured company because every attendee walks out knowing who they are, what they do, and how they can work together in the future. There is no chance for the company representative to miss out on exchanging information with a potential business partner because they are front and center for their allotted time.

Another aspect of the Meet, Greet, Eat Business Card Exchange which I was extremely fond of was the food. Amidst all the meeting and greeting, guests were invited to dine on small appetizing bites and freshly baked gourmet pizza. Alfredo’s friendly wait staff butlered a variety of hot hors d’oeuvres including miniature pop-in-your-mouth sandwiches with prosciutto, basil, roasted red pepper and mozzarella. Another service personnel kindly scanned the room offering arancini with a scrumptious cheese sauce and fried potato balls with homemade marinara. Even after the butlering died down, there was a small table of displayed hors d’oeuvres for the guests’ enjoyment. This generous offering featured crostini with roasted red peppers and cute caprese stacks. Lastly, Alfredo’s Italian byo served up two delicious pizzas, hot out of the oven, for the fortunate networking guests, and a tomato pie!

The event is not too brief but doesn’t take up your entire evening either. Running from 6 to 7:30, June’s exchange was paired with beer from McKenzie’s Brew House, but there was also self serve wine available. Barbara plans on hosting a new local beverage company each month in order to showcase the area’s talents and quench the thirst of each and every guest.As 7:30 pm rolls around, regular customers and new faces begin to pack the dining section for their evening meals. Networkers are more than welcome to grab a seat and continue conversation with their new contacts. If they have another arrangement to skip off to, it’s easy to meet up at next month’s Meet, Greet, Eat. They will be taking place the first Tuesday of every month and Barbara has even more ideas up her sleeve for this event. You’ll have to attend to see how this innovative networking event can work for you. Check their Facebook page for the events to be added each month, where you can RSVP and invite others to join.

Alfredo Italian byo is located at 668 Lancaster Avenue in Berwyn. If you’re interested in being a featured business or providing beverages, please email Barbara@alfredobyo.com.