Blog Post #3: Professional Networking Now and in the Future

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Photo from Eventbrite

In the past while I was living in London, networking was easy. I would attend multiple events per week in the evenings after work, as well as connect online on LinkedIn and Instagram. 

There was always something going on, which made for a pretty hectic work week but kept up the excitement to the point where I never really had time to be nervous about meeting new people since it was so fast paced. 

Since being back in Ottawa, over the past few months I have definitely let the cold weather keep me more indoors. There’s not as much going on in terms of events, but through different search mediums I can get the most out of my location.

Eventbrite is a great source for finding events in cities all over the world. Some events cost money, but quite a few of them are free. You are able to search by location or key word, and input dates to refine your search. 

Another application I use to find events is Couchsurfing. This is primarily an app that lets you find hosts for free accommodation. There is also a feature where you can search for events in whatever city you are in.

I was able to network and meet amazing people in Paris, for example, when I was doing photography for a festival. We met at the Louvre, all not knowing each other, had a picnic and then went to the festival together. How cool is that?

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Couchsurfing friends and I in Paris, Lollapalooza 2017

Currently, I have been looking at Facebook events to see what events are coming up or that show friends in attendance. Eventbrite is also still a great tool to find both online and in person networking events. 

In the next 6-12 months I will be working at a new job, so I hope to network as much as I can there and meet new people. I also plan to attend any relevant events I can find that interest me or can aid in my professional development. 

After meeting someone in person, I could also be more vigilant in connecting online via LinkedIn as well. Making the extra effort and keeping in touch with people is necessary to building that connection. 

Instagram is a growing platform for networking—following certain hashtags can allow me to find new people or brands to connect with that may share my same interests. 

I would like to attend at least one in person networking event per month—whether for work or for personal endeavours. I also want to post three times per week on Instagram with insightful and artistic content highlighting my photography or other skills. 

Just showing up to events is half the battle for me, since I can be quite anxious when I am by myself—but I also realize that I have the most potential for networking when I am alone as it forces me to get outside my comfort zone.

When I attend events I usually like to set a goal, like talking to three new people and collecting at least one business card or contact information. Making one strong connection is better than saying hello to many people and not fully resonating with anyone. 

Connecting online is generally much easier than in person; however, if I can get through to someone in person and then follow up online, that is my preferable route to building a strong professional relationship. 

What is your favourite way to connect? Let me know in the comments!

COM0015 – Blog 5: Out of the Box

Wow, I can’t believe it… my last blog post and assignment for the Algonquin Social Media program!  Now I only need to be concerned about keeping up my own blogging content, and social media accounts, and of course their monitoring and measurement.  When I started to program a seemingly long time ago, there were lots of things I didn’t know about online marketing and social media… mainly to do with metrics, measurement, and blogging.  But these have all become common place for me, and are all widely used and embraced by social media experts alike.  There are however, a couple of things that have come up in the past few weeks that I didn’t really expect to have applications in for online marketing.

The first one is Eventbrite (https://www.eventbrite.ca/).  I’ve used it multiple times in the past to register for conferences and other events, but had no idea that you could use it to search for events in a specific area.  Any time I have used it for registration, I’ve always gone directly to the registration page via a link from the hosting organization’s website. I plan on using the search function in the future to check out local events for both personal and professional interest, as well as using it to list the paid events offered by my company.

The other unexpected application I have found is Meetup (https://www.meetup.com).  I had first heard about Meetup a number of years ago, but it never really stayed on my radar.  I was always under the impression that it was geared towards leisure activities, and really had no applications in the business world… was I ever wrong!  This is a great platform for finding other like-minded professional, or ones that are in the same field.  Looking at it recently I found a number of events for individuals who are in the social media marketing field, as well as Career Development, and small business.  I’m excited to see what events I can be part of in the future, and convincing my company to host some free events to get out name better known.

This is the beauty of the social web, there are always new technologies presenting themselves.  Maybe they aren’t always used for their original intention, but web-based technologies are dynamic by nature.  I’m looking forward to seeing what is on the horizon, and how I will be able to integrate them with my social media marketing plans.

COM0015 – Post #3 – Professional Networking

group of lions on a rock

I just have to admit one thing right from the start – I’m a social animal! I love networking, meeting new people, talking about business and digital media and attending educational or social events. This is especially true when there’s food involved!

I have found several in-person and online methods to get involved in networking events, including the use of some social media tools. My favourite thing about networking is when the in-person and online methods converge and strengthen relationships because of the combination.

Meetup Logo

In real life, I like to meet people through Meetup.com and wrote an article about this platform called Use the Internet to Get Off the Internet!

Eventbrite LogoI’ve also found it useful to network through Eventbrite, my local Chambers of Commerce, free social media seminars, my professional association (IABC), mutual business associates, and volunteering in the community. I’ve also done a short working stint for free at a local digital marketing agency.

I’ve found you can meet a huge number of contacts using these methods!

But there’s more to it than just meeting people, sharing a short conversation, and then exchanging business cards. I try to follow up with people after meeting them in person. I connect with them on LinkedIn and follow them on Twitter. I check out their websites. I join LinkedIn groups where my new contacts hang out. Sometimes it’s as easy as sending an email providing some information or a valuable tidbit regarding a conversation we had the previous day. The trick is to keep connected somehow, encouraging a fruitful relationship that can benefit both parties in future.

So my networking activity is already quite hectic. But I always think of more things I should be doing to strengthen my relationships so that one day, people I’ve met will say:

“Hey, Sheila’s into blogging and social media marketing – send her an email.”

My Networking Strategy for 2016

In 2015, I found networking to be easy and enjoyable. In 2016, what will put the “work” into networking for me? To do more in the coming months, I’d like to write some more interesting and informative articles on Pulse on LinkedIn. I’ve noticed my colleagues doing this and getting lots of comments. It keeps their names familiar to me, so I know it helps people remember their contacts. I would also like to send some simple “let’s get together” messages on LinkedIn to my connections.

Next, I’d like to get to know my professional association members better in person. If you happen to be a member of International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and an independent in Toronto, check out our group on LinkedIn called Professional Independent Communicators (PIC). This is a great group of people who share all kinds of information about what it’s like to be an indie in this business. Monthly meetings alternate between educational topics and social gatherings. Our next meeting is tomorrow night with a guest speaker to help boost our productivity in 2016. I’ve met some members who live nearby and we plan to get together for a coffee sometime soon, so I’m already making some headway regarding my 2016 networking strategy.

Do you take advantage of your professional association events? Local chambers of commerce? LinkedIn or event-based social media groups like Meetup and Eventbrite? Do you hold your own special events or workshops? If you haven’t already, why not try some of these groups for your own networking strategy in 2016. And please let me know if you find any new social media networking platforms like them.