I love networking events, particularly the ones that include SMB technology companies. More importantly, I love attending and/or participating in job-related events that enable participants to connect, talk and get to know one another. Let’s take a trip back to year 2000. I graduated from business school that year and distinctly remember the many job fairs that my business school put on. Needless to say they were more a waste of time than anything. They more or less went something like the following. A couple of big name companies such as Accenture, Deloitte, RBC and the like would stand at the front of an auditorium of a packed crowd of suit-wearing students talking about how great they were, their recruitment processes and what a career path could look like. After we sat there for an hour or so we would all file out of the auditorium into another section where we had the opportunity to visit tables with company representatives. The purpose? We could talk to them, find out a little bit more about them and collect a few pieces of swag. At the end of all of this, not only was I exhausted, but I still hadn’t really connected with anyone. Simply put, I was competing with all of my peers for the attention of a select few. I actually only attended one of these job fairs in their entirety because they were a waste of my time, AND I figured out a better way to “win the game”.
At the core is the traditional job fair’s inability for participants to connect and get to know each other. After all, isn’t it a common objective of prospective employee and prospective employer to meet and evaluate whether or not a potential fit exists? Well duh… the only way you can do this is if you talk. If you push people to only connect through an online job application process and make it really difficult to have conversations you have missed an opportunity. Don’t disable conversation… ENABLE it.
This takes me to this Saturday, August 20th at MaRS Discovery District in Toronto. I’ll be attending HackerNest Toronto, which I am really excited about. Not only am I excited to meet a couple handfuls of growing SMB tech companies, I’ll be connecting with long-time network contacts and new people who I’ve heard a lot about. The setting of MaRS could not be more perfect for an event like this. From everything I have read and heard, at the core of this event is networking and conversation. It’s also kind of cool that HackerNest is a nonprofit organization that does a variety of cool things centred around building up local tech communities around the world. They do this by producing down-to-earth tech social events and hackathons — what better way to get more people into tech than by facilitating the conversations that enable this to happen.
People often ask me for suggestions on how to promote themselves to prospective employers and to stand-out. I usually respond with this answer. Just be yourself — dress the way you want to, and be social. Allow these companies to get a glimpse of who you really are. Finding that connection through social conversations is probably the best way to stand-out. Oh and you don’t need to rehearse your pitch, or come with scripted questions — would you do this when you’re going on a first date with someone you just met? I certainly hope not. Well it’s the same idea when you’re meeting prospective employers. Be yourself, be social and strike a conversation.
I look forward to seeing you all on Saturday at MaRS. Be sure to be part of the conversation on social media — the event hashtag is #hackernest. The HackerNest social profiles are: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Also feel free to engage with me on Twitter and Instagram.