Why You Should Attend & Network at Kitsilano Chamber of Commerce Meet-ups

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coffeeI’m not a morning person. Add that to the fact that I’m recently free of my day-job, and I was somewhat ambivalent when signing up for a 7am meetup with the Kitsilano Chamber of Commerce. It was a very wet morning but I woke up early tempted by the 10% discount and the familiar turf of Calhoun‘s,

As it turns out, I actually arrived early. When presenter Robin Elliott ticked off his top tips on networking and got to the one about how the best people arrive early, I was glad I hadn’t stuck with Plan B, which was to get there in time for the 7:40am presentation and skip networking and introductions. He reprimanded us (including numerous latecomers): “This is Vancouver! It rains! There’s traffic!”

Calhoun’s set aside a place for 55 guests. There’s no charge–even if you’re not a member (or a future member as they optimistically advertise). There are door prizes.

How does it work? You get 15 seconds to introduce yourself, for example: I’m Mary Bennett. I’m a visual artist. I have a show of mixed-media nests at the Unitarian Church at 49th and Oak. I’m working with the Vancouver Maritime Museum on a community-engaged art project to raise awareness of the issue of plastics pollution in the ocean and the effect on sea-birds. Google “Bird on the Beach Kitsilano”. Turns out you can say quite a lot in 15 seconds, although they didn’t shame anyone who went a few seconds over.

The big take-away tip on networking for me was to aim for a maximum of three people you resonate with and do not thrust your business card in people’s face saying, “If you ever need x, call me.” Elliott made it clear you need to have a reason to recommend someone and you earn the right to be recommended. As it turned out he used a rather amusing example, asking how many people knew more than one realtor. We all raised our hands.

I have lived in the same housing co-op for over 20 years and am not looking for a realtor, but the person I clicked with is a realtor. Why did we click? She approached me in an easy way, asked me about myself and listened to the answers (I like that and it’s good networking it turns out.

We discovered that we both had run arts organizations and were concerned about the environment. Louise Boutin has been involved with musical theatre and is the Green Party candidate in Kensington. We plan to get together for coffee. Who knows if I’ll ever be able to give her name to a potential client, but as most of my friends are also engaged in arts and environmental issues, I’d definitely recommend her. (Oh, and I did check her website and see she’s been a successful realtor as well.)

These meetups started two years ago with half a dozen people. Judy Reiman, a ball of energy who is on the board and coordinates the events. “By popular request”, Reiman sends out an excel sheet with information from everyone’s business cards after the event.

Clearly they’ve found a formula that works. Maybe I’ll see you there next time?

Kitsilano Chamber of Commerce, 400-1681 Chestnut Street, Kitsilanochamber.com

Calhoun’s Bakery Cafe, 3035 West Broadway 604) 737-7062, Calhouns.bc.ca

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Mary Bennett is a visual artist and community catalyst particularly interested in people, events and places where art, community and environment intersect. As a long-time Kits resident, she believes this is the neighbourhood where those three things intersect frequently. You can read more about her and her art at Marybennett.net. Follow her Kits Eco-Art projects at Kitsecoarts.wordpress.com. Send her tips for this blog if you, or someone you know, have something that fits the “art+community+environment=amazing” equation.

Last modified: April 22, 2013

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