What a weekend! It is always awe-inspiring to witness and partake in events where like-minded, ambitious, and creative women mix and mingle – let alone HOST the event. As the standing Executive Media Director and Host of Monday Girl, I am so proud of what came from The Fashion Gala 2017, a networking mixer that we held on Saturday night with our lovely co-hosts the YES! Dress for Success team. Having the opportunity to moderate a panel where four women from four different industries came together to give advice to the up and coming was humbling and I will never cease to be grateful for that opportunity. The panel consisted of Lexi Miles, the CEO of the empire that is Waxon Waxbar, Nancy Chen, the owner of Ottos Bierhalle, Connie Chan, the marketing and social strategist of Warner Music Canada, and Mel Hwang, a fashion and lifestyle blogger who boasts over 37 thousand followers on Instagram. This sold out event was evidence to me, and to the 150 women who were in attendance, that networking plays a huge part in the advancement of careers and does not have to consist of that typical stuffy and awkward small talk that has dominated these types of events in the past. The Fashion Gala united women from all over Toronto and was a fun night of great conversation over drinks from the open bar, an engaging speakers panel, wonderfully delightful desserts, and a soulful performance from up and coming Arnica!
As women, we have an obligation to stand up for ourselves and be confident, walking with our heads held high and our heels in matching stride (or runners, or flats, or whatever else it is that we want to wear)! In the spirit of this weekend and all the networking the Monday Girls and I did this weekend, here’s my top networking tips for all the Monday Girls (and Guys) out there:
BE AUTHENTIC & STAY TRUE TO THE REAL YOU! During the panel and throughout the night I heard the word, “authenticity” being thrown around a lot and I believe it is because in the 21st century world we live in, social media bombards us with the highlight reel of each user’s life—a reel that we know is a facade. Thus, we crave for a deeper connection, in turn, a more honest one. To be authentic doesn’t look the same from person to person and isn’t cookie cutter clear since we are all unique. It is in those unique intricacies that we form our authentic self and are able to build deeper connections. The thing to remember is to stay true to you and to your values and not undercut your beliefs in order to fit into a mold. The more honest you can be with yourself, the more authentic you will be perceived and the more genuine a connection you will make. Don’t change yourself too much to fit a role because eventually the ‘real’ you will show and the perfect box that you strived so hard to fit yourself into will no longer work.
CONFIDENCE WITH A TOUCH OF HUMILITY IS KEY! Confidence isn’t always the easiest to harness, in fact, being confident in yourself and what you stand for is hard for many. My advice is to practice being humble, to practice self-love, and to practice being grateful and from these practices build your confidence. I’ve noticed more and more that the most confident people are those individuals who credit the people who surround them rather than themselves alone. By being humble, you show that you are confident enough in yourself to know that without support, you wouldn’t be in the position that you are in to be confident. Additionally, practice describing what you have achieved and describing what you do over and over again—treat it almost like you’re running lines. Memorize your resume and deliver it to yourself in a mirror or to your friends and family until you feel comfortable ‘humbly bragging’ about yourself. Find interesting stories to tie into this monologue you’re creating and tell those stories to these connections to make yourself stand out and overall more memorable. The more times you run through it, the more confident you will be when you are delivering it to someone else.
NEVER STOP HUSTLING AND TREAT EVERY MOMENT AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO NETWORK! Just because it’s not in your day-in and day-out job hours does not mean you won’t meet someone who could play an essential role in your future. Whether you are out for dinner, at a networking event, at a yoga class, or at a grocery store, keep your mind open! Be open to meeting new people and treat EVERYONE you meet with the respect that you would show to any and all of your mentors – you never know who you will meet and what will come from those connections.
SMILE & MAKE EYE CONTACT! Be approachable. I know this isn’t always easy especially when you feel slightly uneasy but smiling and making eye contact go a long way when making connections. Smiling makes you approachable while eye contact shows that you’re paying attention to what they are saying – these two things when mixed together help when you’re mingling with others!
BE ATTENTIVE! Pay attention to what someone is saying, nod to show you are listening, engage with their stories, and ask him or her questions as well—do NOT monopolize the entire conversation and make it all about you. When answering a question do not rush your response just to fill a lull but rather pause and think about your reply. A thoughtful reply will always be more powerful than weightless fillers.
As demonstrated by The Fashion Gala, networking can be fun so most importantly remember to take a deep breath and ENJOY YOURSELF.
As an extra tidbit of information, one of the best pieces of advice I heard that night was offered by Lexi Miles and agreed upon by the entire panel—she said: “hire people who are smarter than you”. I believe this applies to not only the hiring process but to the networking process as well. If you surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and people who you are able to learn from, they are inevitably the individuals who will inspire you and push you to work harder and WANT to be better—one can NEVER be too inspired or too ambitious.
HUGE shout out to all my team members on the Monday Girl executive board who all played a major part in making this event all that it was! Rachel and Istiana, the Co-Founders, Jordana, our Executive Director of Events, Marlie, our Executive Director of Brand Partnerships, Nikita, our Executive Director of Sponsorships, and Carolyn, our Executive Director of Public Relations – you ladies demonstrate what it means to be a Monday Girl! Although we all have specific titles, we all work as a team and play essential parts in each and every aspect of creating these events regardless of those titles! #teamworkmakesthedreamwork #squadgoals
Special thanks to all of Monday Girl’s sponsors who went above and beyond pushing this event to the next level!
Cheers and GO GET YOUR NETWORKING ON!!!