While I had gone to a few bank functions over the last couple months that consisted of everyone sipping red wine and being dressed to the nines, one of the most successful events I went to where I actually was able to develop professional networking was at the Ottawa Humane Society Wiggle Waggle Walk. This is an event put on every year where people from all over eastern Ontario and western Quebec come together to raise funds for the Ottawa Humane society and get to bring and show off their dogs. I chose this event because I recognized it as an out of the box opportunity to network and mingle with some of the higher-ups of my company (Bank of Nova Scotia). Every year, our district puts together a team of dog owners who raise money for the Ottawa Humane Society, and having a dog myself (and being a HUGE dog lover I may add) I thought this would be a good opportunity to use a passion for dogs as a conversation starting with some of the district managers it a light-hearted atmosphere (its somewhat more comforting approaching your boss’s boss when they are wearing jeans and a t-shirt covered in drool rather than wearing a high-end suit sipping a $15 glass of wine).
I was able to speak with my district vice-president (Frank Bilodeau) about our love for dogs, but also about how our business is doing, and what credentials and areas of focus I need to be more successful and move up in the banking business. I spoke with Mike Mullin, my community manager, that I don’t get to see often as he has so many branches to supervise that he is only in his office once a week. We started again talking about dogs, he was surprised at the size of my dog (which won biggest dog at the Walkathon) and from there we turned to more business related matters. We started with out branch performance as a whole, then queued in on my performance for the year and he congratulated me on winning a district award for the year (He kind of ruined the surprise because I wasn’t sure I won, our year-end gala wasn’t for another two weeks). After this we just walked a kilometer or two with our dogs winding in and out between the two of us about what I wanted to do in the future, who I should try to follow, and the courses and tips to move up and be the most successful I possibly can.
These two were people who I looked up to and was happy to have the conversation. They gave my guidance about what to expect in the near future, but they also were looking for my input on certain aspects on how the branches were run, which made me feel very good that they acknowledged the little guy so to speak. They both gave me the knowledge and revived the passion to get back to working on bank related courses that I need to move up and become better at my position and future positions (Canadian Securities Courses, Financial Planner Courses, etc..). This was an event I will never forget, for the amazing dog’s I got to visit with, the amazing words of wisdom I got from people I looked up to, and I will definitely be signing up for the Scotiabank Wiggle Waggle Team again for as long as the event is held. It’s the perfect opportunity to meet new people who are also dog lovers, and a more casual approach to networking with management and bosses at my job.
The most important thing I may have learned was some wise words that my manager gave me as we concluded our conversation as my dog decided he wanted to go a different direction “Not only is a dog a man’s best friend, but also a man’s most useful conversation starter”. I kind of laughed it off at first as I walked away, but as the day went on and I was approached as people asked me how much my dog weighed and how much food he ate (180 lbs. and 6 cups of dry food respectively) I noticed that when two dogs walk towards each other and start sniffing, the owners always strike up a conversation. My dog was the perfect wing-man so to speak in starting conversations with strangers that I alone would be less likely to converse with without him as I am somewhat of an introvert at big events. (And for all you wondering what a 180 lb. dog looks like, I’ve attached the photo taking directly from the Humane Society twitter page of me and my Brutus winning the biggest dog competition.
Thanks for reading!!