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!

COMM 0015 – Blog Post #5: Event Participation

I recently attended the annual Free Learning Day hosted by the Communications Community Office (CCO) of the Government of Canada.  While it was available by webcast, I chose to attend this event in person because it is considered to be a highly anticipated opportunity for Federal Government communicators to learn, network and share ideas, and I had never previously attended such an event.

Trending

#COMM2014 Twitter Stream

As it happens, this year’s theme explored different aspects of social media, and the unique challenge faced by government communicators to interact and engage with Canadians online. The conference-style event opened with a plenary panel discussion, followed by a fascinating talk by Guest-speaker Martin Waxman, an opportunity to visit various interactive learning booths, another panel discussion, and finally a presentation by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) on their incredible social media campaign that followed the mission of Commander Chris Hadfield.

The CCO had equipped the plenary room with a screen displaying the #Comm2014 live feed, which attendees could use to ask questions, make comments, and share ideas. Within an hour of the start of the event, #Comm2014 was trending in Ottawa, and by mid-morning it was trending in Canada. This provided me, and others, an opportunity to engage with the panel and the rest of the audience, without singling myself out at the microphone.

I can safely say that the presentations resonated with me much better than did the panel discussions. Martin Waxman was able to touch on issues such as the difference in perspective between communicators under 35 years old and those over 35, the value of lurkers in disseminating your messaging offline, and the benefits of tailoring messaging to enhance search success.

The presentation from the CSA was out of this world – literally.  These folks were able to address their huge successes (with videos generating likes by the millions), while acknowledging the limitations of working within the context of government. They were able to speak candidly about how to ensure content is bilingual, timely, engaging, and meets all the requirements for the Government of Canada Communications Policy. Despite all their success, one issue that stood out to me was that following his mission, it would seem that Commander Hadfield has a wild number of Twitter and Facebook followers, and that folks are searching his name for videos online.  What will this mean for the Canadian Space Agency’s social media following, now that the mission is over and the astronaut is retired?  Have they created enough of an association between his brand and their own to sustain an engaging online presence, or will they be able to keep up this momentum with other subject matter?

CCO Exhibits sign

Welcome Sign to CCO Exhibits

One topic, or tagline, that kept coming up was the notion of “how can we reconcile a need for responsiveness and to adapt quickly with the sometimes dinosaur-like slowness of bureaucracy?” Ideas were shared by representatives from several departments from limiting approval requirements, to generating interaction protocols and content in advance of engagement. Some departments even offered to share with participants their existing approaches and strategies.

I would certainly attend a CCO event like this in the future. This venue provides a natural opportunity to share ideas and best practices between departments, and to find evidence of successes and failures to back up your own suggestions and ideas.

I know there are a lot of Government communicators taking this course. Did anyone else attend this event?  What stood out for you?

COM0015 – Blog Post #3 Professional Networking Now and In the Future

This is where I fall short. I don’t have a strategy for my networking on or offline. I go online, I read, I sometimes share articles and posts and then I’m done, very closed and one way. Offline is even less. I don’t like to admit it but I don’t make much of an effort to research events that I know I would love to attend and meet the industry professionals that I really want to connect with. This is where I have the opportunity to catch up and make up for lost time.

It is all too easy to hide behind time. There isn’t enough time for this, there isn’t enough time for that. And sometimes there just isn’t. But I am committing to making time now and going forward to concentrate more on sharing my thoughts and comments on articles and news. I need to be proactive in making myself more visible, I can’t sit in the corner anymore. And speaking of sitting in a corner, I might as well be in sitting in the corner if I am not attending events that will give me the opportunity to meet new people and industry professionals that I can gain so much and share what I have to offer too.

This is just the icing on the cake. You just never know who you are going to meet and where. Networking is more than putting yourself out there in typical networking forums on and offline. It is everywhere and I need to take advantage of every opportunity.

Monday-Mingle

*images from Twitter – An Ordinary Girl’s Travel Scrapbook