COM0015 Blog 3 Professional Networking

COM0015 Blog 3 Professional Networking

Desperately Seeking Support for Network Building

The idea of ‘networking’ makes extroverts gleam and introverts scream.  Schmoozing and ‘working the room’ may be natural behaviours for some, but for others it can often be an overwhelming and underproductive experience.  However, if done effectively, networking can expand your sphere of influence and build your personal brand.  For those desperately seeking support, here’s some tips that I have learned over the years:

Know Yourself

Professional networking is more about giving than receiving, so determine your strengths and be prepared to share this knowledge and experience with others.  Think about your brand and what makes you a superstar. If you talk about something that you are passionate about, you will come across sincerely and naturally. 

Do Your Research

Whether it’s a virtual or in-person networking event, research the participants ahead of time.  Make a list of who you may like to connect with and think about how your strengths, knowledge and experiences may be of assistance to them.

The Meet and Greet

Some can dive right in and start a conversation with strangers, while others may need a bit of coaching.  Scan nametags for people on your research list or look for businesses or organizations that you feel comfortable conversing about.  If a large event sounds too daunting, invite a networking buddy, but be sure to branch off and meet new people.   Think quality connections, not quantity.

Network Everywhere

Don’t just save your networking skills for formal business events, look for opportunities at team meetings and social functions.  Make a pact with yourself to share and offer your skills and experiences with a co-worker and/or meet someone new.  

Keep in Touch

Professional networking is more than just meeting people, it’s about making meaningful connections. You might keep in touch over coffee or at other business functions, but with COVID-19 restrictions, we’ll all need to rely on phone calls, email, and social media for the next 6 – 12 months.  If you are uncomfortable chatting on the phone or writing emails, you can easily re-connect by commenting on one of their posts or send them a link to an article that you think would interest them.  Again, quality connections, not quantity.

By giving your time, offering your insight, and sharing knowledge, your network will naturally reciprocate by preaching your value to others thus increasing your brand reputation.  Keep the faith.

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COM0015 – Assignment #5 – Professional Development

My role as a Business Development Officer with Innovation PEI consists of a variety of responsibilities including support for youth entrepreneurship. In early November, I attended a series of events hosted by 21inc. an organization dedicated to providing leadership experiences for young Atlantic Canadians. While Innovation PEI was also a sponsor of the event, I took the opportunity to attend not only to better understand the asset we were supporting, but also to learn more about the needs and interests of one of key demographics I support.

The Ideas Festival took place November 4-6, 2015 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and included a variety of sessions including keynote speakers and breakout sessions, as well as a significant number of networking opportunities. The schedule for event can be found here.

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my accreditation

I met a number of young leaders from around Atlantic Canada during the event. During the morning of November 5th I was part of a table which included young leaders: Gaetan Lanteigne, Patrick Duguay and Remzi Cej. We had a great discussion, switching back and forth between French and English, about issues impacting smaller communities in Atlantic Canada.

Later that morning I sat with another group which included both young leaders and community members. Lisa, Adam, Gracen, Corina and I discussed the future of Atlantic Canada and what we felt makes it a great place to live.

The next day, I attended presentations on topics ranging from intrapreneurship, delivered by Chitra Anand (Microsoft Canada), to success in multi-generational business featuring  members of PEI’s Murphy family and finally a panel discussion with Hon. Wade MacLauchlan, Premier of Prince Edward Island and Hon. Brian Gallant, Premier of New Brunswick.

Premier Wade MacLauchlan, Premier Brian Gallant and Lisa Hrabluk. photo credit: H.Rossiter

Premier Wade MacLauchlan, Premier Brian Gallant and Lisa Hrabluk. photo credit: H.Rossiter

After attending this event, I can confirm – and yes I might be biased – that Atlantic Canada has a lot to offer, includes bright young minds and is a great place to live and work.

There were many great ideas shared during the event but what stuck with me the most is a quote from Chitra Anand.  During her presentation on intrapreneurship Ms. Anand recommended incorporating a fail fast recovery model in what you do. Allow for ‘trying’ and if unsuccessful, stop – extract the learning and move on. That is where she feels the learning and opportunity happens.

These types of events are great for providing perspective and networking.  The challenge is finding the right balance that helps you develop skills while staying on top of your daily routine.

Do you take part in many professional development or networking events?  How do decide which one(s) to attend?