By Garth Jackson
One sunny afternoon in the WestEnd, as I sat atop my stoop, waiting for a client from a new restaurant in Gastown, Vancouver called BAMBUDDA. I was a little bit anxious, as this was our first meeting.
Since I have a fairly central apartment building, I decided to invite the client to meet for coffee at my place. However, parking in the WestEnd is not so easily found so I decided to be a good host and sit outside my house; texting him the open parking spots that I could see. A rarity at 3 P.M. on a weekday!
As I sat texting and roaming my social media channels, one of my neighbours’ came out to have a word with the man mowing the lawn. I could not help myself from overhearing their brief interaction.
My neighbour was looking for a graphic artist, but the man mowing the lawn did not have anyone to recommend. Usually, like all good Vancouverites, I would have grinned and let him be on his way with as little eye contact as possible…. But hey! I am in Public Relations and we need to network! So the thought of knowing your neighbours’ may be a little scary for some but let me assure you, it can pay off.
My neighbour, (let’s call him Paul) walked back up the stoop disgruntled at the lack of good available graphic artists in Vancouver – that were not already working multiple jobs. I boldly spoke up… and said, “I know some.”
Paul’s face suddenly broke into a huge smile.
“You do! Really! Oh my God!” He said shrieking as his wife exited the apartment building. “He knows graphic artists!” Paul yelled up to his wife pointing down at me.
Soon the three of us were engaged in a lengthy conversation about products, packaging, merchandising, public relations, writing, natural foods… the list goes on. We planned to meet the next day to discuss the opportunity so that I could understand the scope of the job and the direction that it would take.
This also led me to meeting Mr. X, who on a soft week was selling one million dollars worth of products (a week) in the USA. Clearly great networking connections were made from me sitting on the stoop, waiting to host a client.
Happily now, husband and wife and Mr. X have connected with my graphic artist friend, my web developer friend and I have made three new great connections. So great in fact, that when one of the best apartments in my building came up for rent this month, they knocked on my door, telling me it was time to move from my downstairs hovel and up into the clouds, where I could appreciate the views of my WestEnd apartment and enjoy the benefits of my new found friends.
Networking does not always need to be at a black-tie event, or around a new bar in Gastown, it can be as simple as greeting your neighbour. You may have more things in common than where you dwell, next time you are at a café or sitting on your stoop, think about how I met my neighbours’. Perhaps you may have a connection or two yourselves!