November Networking Event Recap

Last night’s event was exactly what I had hoped it to be. Passionate young women connecting with each other and broadening their networks. I recently joined the volunteer team here at YWiB Toronto as an Events Coordinator. I had been looking for ways to network and find women who were equally as passionate as I was about helping young women navigate the business world.

 Guests gathered around lindsay johnson, our keynote speaker for the evening.

Guests gathered around lindsay johnson, our keynote speaker for the evening.

Our November Networking Event hosted around 50 young, bright women. We gathered at The Citizen, a great casual space for working professionals to connect located right off King West. The venue had plenty of room to accommodate standing conversions and had bonus couch sections for more intimate one-on-one talks.

As someone who is always on time (or usually too early, let’s be honest!,) I appreciated that many YWiB members were ready to meet and mingle with the first few guests who arrived. There is nothing worse than showing up at a networking event to find that there is no one to talk to for the first 15 minutes! As everyone started arriving, guests were encouraged to mix and mingle with others. The conversations I had with some of the attendees were amazing and really broadened my understanding of business. I work in the music industry but enjoyed that I was able to get to know passionate women from different industries across the city.

After 45 minutes, Sandra Riano, President of the Toronto Chapter introduced our keynote speaker, Lindsay Johnson. Lindsay teaches first-time entrepreneurs everything they need to know about building their business from the ground up. Thanks to a technical difficulty, what was supposed to be a speech about how to become a client magnet, turned into two intimate sessions catered towards two groups of women: first-time entrepreneurs, and young professionals. Lindsay was able to interact with us and answer our questions about how best to go about networking, starting a business, etc. This intimate setting ended up being one of my favourite parts of the evening. The opportunity to be in a small group with a leader like Lindsay was so insightful.

As the final part of the evening started, guests were asked to split into three groups to network further. Everyone around me seemed to be having compelling and eye-opening conversations with one another. During this time, Sandra did three giveaways from a couple of YWiB’s loyal supporters. A big thank you goes out to Tangerine Bank and Shoppers Drug Mart!

 Ywib toronto team at the november networking event

Ywib toronto team at the november networking event

Reflecting on my first YWiB event, I am impressed by the group of women I was surrounded with. If you are looking to find women who will help lift you up, or who are facing similar challenges as you are, or who simply want to widen their network and make connections, then you’ve found the perfect organization to help you do so.

Hope to see you at our next event!

August Networking Event Recap

As an incoming second year Special Event Management Student, it’s extremely important for me to grow my network as it will play a pivotal role in the process of achieving my dream job. I took the liberty of attending a few of networking events during my first year of post-secondary school; however, none of them were as amazing as the August Networking Night located at The Bottom Line in the downtown core of Toronto. With a turn out of 55 people, I have had the blessing of meeting and connecting with several incredible women from various industries, without feeling nervous or intimidated whatsoever. This is a huge improvement for myself as I am notorious for being wildly nervous or intimidated at networking events.

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I believe the reason behind my nervousness and intimidation disappearing was the relaxed, yet professional setting that was organized by the YWiB team. Tonight’s choice of venue was a beautiful sports bar that was the perfect of blend of classy and casual. The bar tops consisted of black granite that gave the venue a stylish look, meanwhile the wooden tables and comfy red seating created a laid-back ambience. To top it all off, there was simple decor present that consisted of chalk signs reading “#YWiBTO,” giving the event a warm and welcoming touch.

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Aside from networking, the event also included activities to break the ice among all the attendees. The agenda consisted of the following: 30 minutes of mingling, 30 minutes of an icebreaker, 1 hour of networking, 30 minutes of a second icebreaker, and 30 minutes of last minute networking. The three hours flew by in a matter of seconds; but I did end up with two memories that are my personal favourites from the night.

My first memory includes talking to professionals that already work in the industry that I want to work in as an Event Specialist, the corporate sector. Despite the fact that they are working in positions that are not related to events, it was eye-opening to learn about a number of companies, their company cultures and their company philanthropic activities. Likewise, I believe this information will come in very useful when searching for companies to apply for in the near future.

My second memory is listening to the attendees’ pitches during the second icebreaker called “What’s Your Pitch?” The objective of the icebreaker is to share something about yourself and what you want to achieve from the networking event within 20 seconds. This is an important skill to master because there are certain situations in life where you’ll only be given 1 minute to explain a topic or answer a question. For instance, you’re in an elevator with the HR of the company that you’re applying for, and you only have 1 minute to answer their question of who you are and why you’re there. Nonetheless, it was absolutely amazing to the attendees present their pitches with such enthusiasm and energy!

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All in all, it was incredibly beautiful to see women from different walks of life empowering and uplifting each other by sharing ideas and industry knowledge. I am so proud to be a part of YWiB Toronto because it is such a positive and inspiring community. Also, as a person who is new to Toronto, I am happy to call this community my home away from home. I am beyond excited for the September’s STEM Q&A Panel that’s taking place on September 13, 2018! I have no doubt that it will be just as amazing as this month’s event.

In case you missed August’s Networking Night, here are the icebreaker questions:

  1. What do you have in common with the person on your left?

  2. Tell us about yourself and what do you hope to gain from tonight’s event?

Written by; Eilleen Faraon 

July Networking Event Recap

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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.

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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.

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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?  

How to Rock a Networking Event

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Coming to one of our networking nights this summer? Don’t know how to even start to make connections? Fear not, here are some tips to make the most of your networking opportunities.

Make a good impression

When you’re in a networking event, you need to be the best version of yourself. Doing so helps those who meet you to remember you and makes it easier for them to be your advocate or champion. Here are a couple of ways to bring out your best self.

  • Be helpful. Ask what they’re looking to achieve with the networking event and if applicable, offer to make an introduction or share knowledge you have about the topic.

  • Be yourself and be honest. People can often tell when you’re trying to fib so don’t invite distrust by pretending to be someone you are not.

  • Be warm and open. This doesn’t mean to hug everybody; it means listening intentionally (to understand, not to practice what you’ll say next), smiling, and approaching every interaction with goodwill.

  • Say what you mean and mean what you say. Ask questions when you don’t know or understand something, don't just nod along while standing on the sidelines. If you appreciate what someone said, say so! If you tell someone you’ll email them, do so!

  • Be clear, specific and straightforward. When you ask open questions with details, you can help keep the conversation going and avoid awkward short answers. For example, don’t ask, ‘how’s it going?’ (answer: it’s going); ask, ‘what was the best thing you read this week?’

  • Leave Debbie Downer at the door. Stay away from complaining, negativity, gossip, judgment, exaggeration, and blaming. It's not about being fake-happy, but rather about being relaxed and easy to talk to.

How do you know who and how to approach?

In our networking events we often sit at a table, and our team takes care of the ice breakers and awkward introductions. If you find yourself in another networking event unaided, and have no idea how to ‘enter’ a conversation, use the 1-2-3 principle. That is, approach those by themselves first, then groups of two and finally groups of three. Here’s how:

  • Look first for people standing by themselves. Often, these ‘groups of one’ are the most welcoming since they’re often shy, so go ahead and approach them. Use an ice breaker, and introduce yourself.

  • When approaching groups of two people, approach first groups who are standing in a V formation. Their bodies are slightly open towards opposite sides, which usually means that they’re open to someone else joining their conversation. Just slide in the middle of the V, make eye contact with both parties, smile, and introduce yourself.

  • If you find a group of two people and their bodies are facing each other straight on, that usually means they’re engaged in a semi-private conversation. Fear not, you can also approach them. Use the ‘may I cut in’ trick seen in movies: approach one of them from the side, gently tap them in the arm and ask for permission to join in. A simple ‘do you mind if I join your conversation?’ will suffice. Nine times out of ten, they’ll say yes and introduce you to the other party or parties. If they say no, it’s very likely that they’re discussing a private issue and in that case, just move on to the next group.

  • When approaching groups of three or more, find an open space and use the same ‘may I cut in approach,’ slide in, make eye contact with everyone in the group and join the conversation.

So now that you’re in the group, what do you do next?

You want people to remember who you are. Standing next to someone or only nodding won’t get you noticed. Although listening in is okay, but do your best to participate.

  • If you’re joining a group of one, use an icebreaker to start the conversation. You can compliment a piece of their outfit (or their glasses, phone, etc.), and ask about more about it. Other icebreakers are easy questions such as ‘What attracted you to this event?’ or ‘Have you ever been to an event like this?.’ If you’re really shy, you can admit to that since the other person may be shy also. For example, saying ‘Events like these are so intimidating to me. Are they easy for you?’

  • If you’re joining a conversation of two people or more,  just ask ‘What are we talking about?’ and someone will fill you in. Ask simple follow up questions such as ‘That’s interesting, why is that?’ or ‘I’ve never heard about that’ or ‘Can you elaborate?’ to help the conversation going.

Introducing yourself

The key to introducing yourself is to be brief and give them just enough bits of information to get them to ask more. Also, people like to interact with humans, not robots, so make sure your intro reflects your fun, sassy and clever personality. Here’s a simple fill-in-the-blank script and some samples.

  • My name’s Rihanna. I’m a veteran singer in the entertainment industry. I excel at making my listeners feel like I’m the only girl in the world. In my free time, I enjoy making umbrellas and asking for my money back. My best friends would describe me as obsessed with diamonds. I’m here to get more fans and weed out any rude boys.

  • My name’s Sarah. I’m a digital marketer in the insurance industry. I excel at helping companies convert passive audiences into customers. In my free time, I enjoy live music and spending time with my dog. My friends describe me as the best board game partner ever. Now I am looking for a digital coordinator role with a company that wants to supercharge their promotional efforts.

  • My name’s Lane. I’m a sales rep in the tech industry. I recently helped my division exceed their sales forecast by 25%. In my free time, I enjoy watching documentaries and biking. My clients describe me as dependable and hardworking. My friends describe me as the best wing-woman in downtown Toronto. I’m here to meet new people and make friends.

Now that you have given enough information to pique their curiosity, pause, look them in the eye and wait. They will ask you questions or tell you something about themselves.

You have listened, talked, and bonded. Now what?

Your goal in a networking event is to make and receive at least one introduction or follow-up meeting from one of your fellow attendees. Yes, it’s about giving, before taking. To do that, you need to make meaningful connections.

Stay tuned for more tips in upcoming blog posts and newsletters. We’ll be covering topics such as how to ask for an informational interview, how to follow up and how to follow through. Also, follow us in Twitter https://twitter.com/ywibto and LinkedIn https://ca.linkedin.com/company/ywibto for more info and resources about rocking the networking game.  

Written by Sandra Riano

A Different Perspective on “the Art of Networking”

You have undoubtedly attended a networking event, and so you understand the significance of knowing how to introduce yourself. My initial plan before heading into my first networking event was to connect with people in my field. Given that the event was geared toward young professionals of any industry, that was likely everyone else’s goal too. I soon realized the repetitive trend of meeting someone whose name was immediately followed by a job title. That pause, a few minutes into a conversation, when you both realize you’re pursuing different industry roles, lacking that commonality. I made a friend that evening who warned me that “people are here to use you to their advantage.” That’s not untrue - you can sense that in the aforementioned pause. Everyone is searching for opportunities to further build their careers.

From that point, I decided not to be associated with a job title. I promoted myself as “new to the city.” I turned Toronto into the commonality between me and anyone I shook hands with. I learned that I was connecting more organically by discussing hobbies than by sharing - or comparing - professional backgrounds. I’ve actually met a few people at social events who refuse to answer the inevitable question: “what do you do?” It’s necessary to be passionate about both sides; however, try treating your day job, your dream job, or your side hustle as an afterthought. It will still come up naturally in conversation, however it just helps your meeting feel like less of a power struggle.

As we move into the holidays, remember the equal importance of knowing how to pitch others. You’re likely bringing a plus-one to a soiree, a significant other to your office’s year-end celebration or a friend to a Christmas party. In advance, take fifteen minutes to decide how you’re going to hype him or her for the introduction. Their confidence will increase instantly, paving the way for a more positive interaction. Accolades are impressive, but if you share what someone enjoys rather than what someone does, you may find that you’re not just making contacts - you’re making friends.

How to find and approach people for coffee chats!

I recently told one of my YWiB colleagues that I had about 10 coffees setup in the next three weeks. She asked me "How!?" & "With Who!?". It got me thinking about how I find people I'm interesting in talking to, and how I go about asking. So, today I'm going to share ways you can find and approach people for coffee!

Three Ways to Find Coffee Chats

10k Coffees

10k Coffees is my favourite platform for this, although it's been a while since I've had a coffee chat on there. When you're starting to build your network, 10k Coffees is a great starting point for finding people with similar interests or someone with career advice on your dream job. Since the platform is so easy to use, it's just a matter of choosing and asking! The platform helps prompt the conversation by asking questions about your intentions, and gives you an understanding of what they want from the site, and gives them knowledge of what you want.

Twitter

Twitter is another great way to find interesting people in your area. As a blogger, I'm connected to a ton of other bloggers, PR individuals and other cool people in the Toronto and K/W areas. I follow what they're tweeting about, interact a little and then DM them to see if they'd be interested in chatting.

Events

The obvious answer is to go out and find people in person! This could be a specific networking event, a media event or even a group class, like a cooking class! What's great about events is that people go for similar reasons. If I'm going to a networking event, it's because I want to network, and I know others do too. If I'm going to a cooking class, I'm bound to find other people interested in cooking too. You'd be surprised where a conversation about common interests can go!

Three Strategies for Asking Someone on a Coffee Chat

Find a common Interest

Did you both go to Western? Ask them about a professor or specific pub that you loved as a student. Say you're interested in meeting other alumni in the city and want to get together to see how your paths have aligned. Are they in the same industry as you? Reach out and tell them about your interest and that you want to know more about how they got involved.

One thing I've learned is that successful people aren't afraid to talk about their achievements, and that most of them are willing to share that knowledge with someone who they think will benefit from it. You just need to find a common thread to tie you with them, and the rest is simple.

Tell a colleague or friend you are interested in meeting someone in their network

Sometimes being bold is hard. Especially when your network is small, and the concept is still new to you. So, it might be easier (and still totally ok!) for you to ask for a little bit of help.

If you are uncomfortable starting a conversation yourself, ask a friend to introduce you. At networking events, if I'm talking to someone and someone else joins the circle, I try my best to introduce everyone, because that's how I'd want to be treated if the situation was reversed. Or, if you notice your friend has a connection on LinkedIn you're interested in meeting, just ask for a simple intro to them via email. Asking for help is not a weakness, it's a strength to be able to do so when you're uncomfortable! Any of us at YWiB would be happy to introduce you, you've just got to ask!

Tell them about a project you're working on and how they might help

I'm sure everyone at YWiB has used this one, and for good reason! A great way for us to reach out to people we are interested in talking to, is through our not-for-profit work. People tend to be willing to lend an ear to talk, especially if they think you want them involved!

If you don't have a not-for-profit, reach out about any project, academic, personal or professional. Or even ask them about a project you are thinking about starting for a brainstorming session or advice!