“Networking is an opportunity to meet people. It is a chance to put a name and face to a business. It is a chance to hear about their story, their journey. The bullets they dodged. Their war stories. Their successes. Their dreams. I love to put myself in the position to be honoured with these conversations.”
These are the words of our CEO, Nikki Csek, who contributes much of her success to her willingness to get out in the community and engage with new people.
But, in a time when technology reigns supreme, not everyone sees the value in networking.
Sending an email is just so much easier than making a phone call, let alone showing up to an event with a bunch of strangers. Some may even say that ‘networking’ has developed a bit of a negative connotation.
It’s true that networking can be intimidating, but there’s something about making a face-to-face connection that just can’t be beaten. So, we’ve rounded up some tips from our own networking experts, as well as a list of organizations in the Okanagan that offer plenty of opportunities to meet other professionals in the area.
Also, if you are wondering where to start networking for business relationships in the Okanagan - reach out to us. We would be happy to give you the lay of the land.
Now, without further ado, let’s get into our top networking tips.
Show up with the right mindset
If you’re showing up with the intention to sell something or do business right off the bat, you’re missing the point.
Do we hope to find opportunities and grow our business as a result of networking? Of course, but not necessarily as a direct result. Our main goal is to meet new people, make connections, put ourselves out there, and hopefully learn something new.
If you show up with the right mindset, it will show. You’ll come across as more natural, organic and approachable, and you’ll get more out of the experience in the end.
“I never go to a networking event with the expectation that I will get something out of it. I do not attend with an agenda. I am open to speaking with anyone about anything. It is often amazing to me how something comes to be by simply being present.” - Nikki
Don’t be afraid to flop
Don’t be shy! You may have the odd awkward moment, but most of the people who attend networking events share a common goal to meet new people. You’re all in the same boat.
If you have a bad experience, you just have to bounce back and try again!
Be aware of body language
This might seem obvious, but it’s often forgotten. Your body language can send a lot of signals, so try to appear approachable.
This also goes for other people’s body language. If people are leaning in and there isn’t an opening in the group, they may not want to be interrupted. However, if they are standing in a V form, it’s more of an invitation.
Spot opportunities for introductions
If you see someone you know speaking with someone you don’t, it’s a great opportunity to seek out an introduction.
If you’re feeling a bit nervous, the drink line can be a great way to meet new people more naturally. And the liquid courage probably won’t hurt, either.
Another great way to meet someone at a networking event is to find another lone wolf. If you see someone standing alone and looking uncomfortable, go and talk to them. You’ll be doing you both a favour!
Going to networking events alone may feel intimidating, but it forces you to get out of your comfort zone and speak to others. So leave the wingperson at home and start shaking some hands!
Wear a name tag
It may not always go with your outfit, but name tags can be great conversation starters. People are more apt to approach you if they can refer to you by name or ask about your company right away.
Networking opportunities in the Okanagan
There are a ton of networking opportunities in Kelowna and the surrounding areas — you just have to know where to look!
Listed below are some organizations that offer regular networking events and opportunities. Do some research and try a few out to see which ones suit you best!