On Monday night, I had my first “connector moment” at the Canadian Sport Centre Pacific (CSCP) Speakers Series event on Event Hosting. I attended this event for the first time last year as a “newbie”, to both networking and the Sport Industry. I vividly remember standing by myself nervously eating the cheese and crackers to look busy, (I am intolerant to both wheat and dairy!), and smiling, wondering how I would approach some of these people.
So, last night, when Auburn from CSCP recognized me from my tweets about the event, she introduced me to Natalie. Natalie has just graduated in Sport Management and is looking to make contacts, gain experience and learn more about the Sport Industry. I know what it’s like to be in her shoes so I was keen to make her feel comfortable and share what I had learned along the way.
My blog post last month broke down how I was able to change my career path by tweeting, volunteering and networking…so that is what I shared with her.
Get on twitter. Auburn from CSCP “knew” me from my retweets (RTs) about their event, as well as other posts. People often say about Twitter “but I don’t have anything to say”. Initially, it doesn’t matter. Follow (stalk!) the companies, people and organizations you are interested in and engage. That can be in the form of retweets or replies. You don’t have to post original content at first. You don’t even really need to be tweeting at first. Just follow people and listen to the conversations. You will find out a lot about what’s happening in Vancouver and in your desired industry by just listening.
Volunteer. I am a huge advocate of volunteering for several reasons. I am involved in and work for non-profit organizations (Disabled Skiers Association of BC, BC Wheelchair Sports and BC Wheelchair Basketball) where we rely heavily on passionate volunteers. In addition, volunteering expands your experience, your knowledge and creates great opportunities to meet people.
Network. The more you do it, the more you will feel comfortable with it…but you’ve got to get out there. There will always be a connector in the room – try and find them (follow the conversation on twitter and scope out some of the people attending the event). Put yourself out there and you will reap the rewards.
After talking with Natalie for a few minutes, I discovered that she had some experience and interest in sporting event management and adapted sports. I was thrilled to be able to connect her with two extremely nice people whom I knew would welcome her and welcome a volunteer. It felt great to be able to do that. I have met so many amazing people who helped me along the way, so I try to pay it forward any chance I get.
You just never know who’s out there…so come out and meet people. If you are an experienced networker or find yourself in a room and notice someone who looks alone and a bit “lost”, please talk to them, I know it made my day when I was hanging out by the buffet.