Throughout social media week, I attended north of 20 events at places all over Toronto. I love exploring new cities; walking and street-caring made it pretty easy to get my bearings. Transiting from event to event allowed me to fully experience the city of Toronto in all its grandeur. After five days, I feel that I know the city pretty well. I learned a ton, what I want to touch on today is networking.
Through experimentation with “networking” over the last month or so, I am starting to figure it out. Practice makes progression (perfection is a fallacy). I’ve found through a lot of trial (and error) that I no longer have that same level of apprehension to approach people, whether it be an acquaintance or stranger. Social media week was the perfect medium to meet people. I met some awesome people in the process and even made a few friends.
See what works for me below.
Find a way in
The way to approach someone you seek to network with is to establish some common ground. This should be easy if they share a similar vocation or hobby. If time allows, I will quickly research via twitter. Profile and tweets are a good way to gauge personality but their pictures are even better. This literally takes one minute.
In my case, I have no problem approaching strangers at Social Media Week because we all share a common interest. I’ve found that people are very receptive to help, all you have to do is gather the courage to initiate.
What is your motive?
Something to ponder before you approach. What are you looking to get out of the conversation? For me, I am hoping to learn from my peers about how they got started in the social industry. What is there story? I honestly believe that everyone is unique and has an amazing story to share.
This is where Seth Rogen comes in. Once you have found some common ground to initiate a conversation, start picking their brain with relevant questions. Whether it is about where they work, what education they have or how they got started in the industry. If you are genuinely interested in talking to someone, these questions should come easily.
Share your story.
People love talking about themselves; it makes them feel all warm and fuzzy. Once a connection is established, don’t be afraid to tell your story. What are you doing currently? Where have you been and where are you going? Sharing a bit about yourself takes the engagement to another level.
Nothing to Lose!
I ask myself: what is the worst that could happen? We are hard-wired to develop relationships in order to build our proverbial tribe. Remember this. People are inherently friendly. A smile and eye contact go a long way.
Two way street
It is not all about you. Think how you can help them. Networking is about mutual understanding and benefit.
As you may know, I am in Toronto for Social Media Week. Being a crafty student, I’ve been creatively finding ways to minimize my expenses throughout the week. Here is a bit about my first two days of frugal living in an expensive city like Toronto.
The first move was buying a weekly transit pass, setting me back 36 beans. Considering it is a hefty $3 per trip, the pass will pay itself off pretty quick.
I’ve been to nine events so far, mostly at different venues. I’ve done a decent job of navigating through the city, only getting lost a couple times. Luckily the Torontonians are very receptive to helping naive visitors find their way.
The quality of the events has been pretty good. Some had engaging speakers with some great insight into the trends of technology and social media. Other speakers tend to push their company brand a bit too much for my liking.
One event in particular was a complete bust. I candidly sat through an hour long sales pitch for a product that the speaker continually claimed to not be associated with… Having heard the groans from others as we were leaving, I can say that we all felt practically violated after the painful lip service.
Complimentary food is a nice perk of some events. I use the term “some”, very loosely. Most of the morning events are sponsored by Chobani yogurt (I hadn’t heard of it either). I’ve personally taken down nine complimentary greek yogurt containers for breakfast over two days. Black Cherry is a palate explosion.
The rest of the food is pretty hit and miss. Some events leave a spread of pastries or fruit and some coffee, while others have a full complement of food. You will be happy to hear that I have only spent $8 on food through two days. Yes, I am that guy grabbing platefuls of fruit and dry muffins prior to the event.
One event in particular was a huge disappointment for eats. You would think having the word ‘lunch’ in the title of an event would foreshadow a hearty meal upon arrival. My hearty meal in this case was a bottle of water and some digestive cookies. The deception was cruel.
I have resorted to listening on twitter to prospect the food at each event going forward. I think this will allow me to plan out my meals a bit better for the rest of the week. I will let you guys know how that goes.
Do you have any tips for frugal living in Toronto? Anything I need to see before I leave?
The other day I shared some of the new age self-education options that are out there. This will be a primer on my trip to Toronto next week for Social Media Week.
Hilarious hipster video was put out by the organizers of Social Media Week.
Social Media Week is a global event that takes place in several host cities from February 13-17. It consists of dozens of presentations, speakers and conferences on all things pertaining to technology, communications and social media. After the great experience I had attending a couple of events at Social Media Week Vancouver in September, I figured what better excuse to skip a week of class than go to Social Media Week Toronto (SMWTO).
My primary concern with investing time and money into an event like this is the added value. I have no doubt the content will be great and I will learn some useful skills. The other part of the value in my opinion is the relationship building.
I plan on using my newfound networking prowess to meet some movers and build some connections. For those concerned about my past business card fiascos, worry not, they are in production as I type. No longer will this guy be answering business card inquiries with embarrassing excuses.
The budget is another huge concern. I am a student with no income. However, with careful planning and frugal spending, I can make it work. The major expenses are: the event itself, accommodation and transportation.
The majority of events at SWMTO are free, friends were gracious enough to let me crash on a pull-out bed in their apartment and my flights are booked on Aeroplan miles. So far so good. Aside from a $61 service charge which Aeroplan was nice enough to sneak in to my ticket transaction, I will not have spent a dime upon my arrival.
Food is another concern. I enjoy eating good high quality food. Most of the events at SMWTO provide “light snacks and refreshments” before and after the entertainment. Not sure what that means, but I plan on taking full advantage of any complementary food; getting appie happy as much as possible. Perhaps even schmooze my way to a few lunch or dinner meetings.
I look forward to the coming week in Toronto. Aside from SMWTO, I am excited to re-connect with some good friends.
No doubt there will be some great stories for the blog as I continue to experiment with networking.
If anyone is in Toronto next week, drop me a line so we can meetup!