Networking events can often be intimidating, especially for me, an introverted Data Analyst who is more used to dealing with numbers than with people. One of the main reasons I joined YWiB was to get out of my shell, and to be more social with people outside of my friend circle. Throughout my time volunteering for YWiB, I’ve met plenty of amazing women, and have enjoyed the small, tight-knit environment of our previous networking events. However, this month we switched things up a bit, holding the event at Mum’s the Word , a beautiful bar located in the heart of downtown Toronto. The bigger space allowed for a much larger crowd than at previous networking nights, with approximately 40 women in attendance. Even with the larger sized group, the event still had the intimate feeling I had enjoyed at previous YWiB networking events.
The night opened with an hour of general networking, which allowed attendees to converse with women of different career levels from a variety of industries. I often found myself in discussions with women in fields completely unrelated to mine, from tech entrepreneurs to business consults to graphic designers. One of my favourite things about working with YWiB is the diversity of women that attend the events, and their willingness to mingle with those outside of their realm. I never had the feeling that I was selling myself, something I find myself doing at other networking events in the city. Instead I was having authentic conversations, often about topics completely unrelated to my actual career. One conversation in particular was regarding racism in the workplace, and how I often find myself being the only black person in a meeting, or even the office. It was nice to hear from others who share my experience and learning how they have managed to deal with their circumstances, which is not something I have had the opportunity to discuss at other networking events.
This month the focus of the night was centred around meeting goals. Prior to the event, attendees were asked to identify their career goals and with this information, we were able to match women with those who were either in the same industry or met their goals in some other way. It was our goal to have every attendee leave with at least two connections, but I found that most were leaving with more than that.
For me, the best part of the night was during the second ice breaker: What is your pitch? For this ice breaker, attendees were given 30 seconds to share something with the crowd. They were welcomed to talk about a business venture, upcoming event, employability, or simply introduce themselves as a new Torontonian. It’s great practice since throughout your career you will find yourself in situations when you’ll only have a few minutes or less to tell someone your story. When those moments come about it’s good to have a 30 second pitch, or what some refer to as an “elevator speech” on hand to impress a future connection. I loved this challenge because I saw woman after woman head to the mic and be met with roaring applause. It was a great way to get us out of our shells and really help us with identifying what we offer, while at the same time providing a supportive environment that offered encouragement.
Overall it was a great event to be a part of and I can’t wait to see what the next networking night will bring.
In case you missed the event, here are the ice breaker questions:
#1: Who are some of the women that inspire you?
#2: What is your 30 second pitch?