Networking: The double-edged sword

I have lost count of the number of times someone has told me that you can’t land a job in Canada unless you network. I’ll be honest here, hearing this has always made my anxiety levels go off the charts. As a part of my learning at George Brown College, we took a course where various marketing industry experts shared their journey and guided us on how to navigate through the industry in this country, and more specifically on how networking can help us to succeed here.

I would say this societal construct of networking to succeed in life is unfair to the people who constantly deal with their own issues. Such situations and the unending pressure they come with can trigger their mental health. Having said that, I am quite thankful to Lori Nave, our professor at GBC who spearheaded this course to aid our journeys. She sourced a perfect platter of people to mentor us, ranging from the vice presidents of companies to our program alumni so that we could see what’s ahead of us from both sides of the table.

These speaker sessions helped me understand how marketing functions in Canada. Having prior experience in the field in India, it was interesting to note that there are more similarities than differences in its structure and operations.

The speakers and what they had to say

Coming to the speakers that I thoroughly enjoyed listening to, Jefferson Darrell, founder of the Breakfast Culture was the most engaging of them all. He gave us some exceptional insights into the power of PR and how good Public Relations can save any sinking ship. You’ve got to turn around the narrative in your favour and drive it before others take over and ruin it all for you.

Through these seminars, I discovered and learned a new business trend from Nicole Hutzul, regional VP of enterprise sales at Yext. This trend is known as strength-based coaching. The technique focuses on building our strengths and honing our skills to get better at something we enjoy, rather than channelling our energies into something we hate. I would personally prefer this to pleasing others by doing something I have absolutely zero interest in.

Rob Tyrie, Founder and CEO of Ironstone Advisory, shed light on the importance of acknowledging customer journeys and using segment personas to provide a seamless customer experience. Irrespective of the industry you are in, these two tools will always come in handy to understand and cater to the customer better. Finally, Karen Makedon, Vice President of Marketing at InvestorCOM, shared some smart tips on how small businesses can optimize marketing and reminded us of the importance of saying NO. Biting more than one can chew adds to the unnecessary burden and often leads to unsatisfactory results.

So, we do have to network after all, right?

And we are back to networking. The direct answer to this is, yes. Melisa Lopez, Digital Project Manager at Cognizant makes it a little easy for us. She advises us to not think twice before asking for help. At the end of the day, we are not asking for favours, we are only asking for a chance. The thing with networking is that if you are seeking help from someone, you have to be open to helping others as well. It has to work both ways. Otherwise, you are just a selfish opportunist. And that is definitely something you don’t want to be associated with.

When I was talking about the anxiousness this process stirs up, I also meant the pressure to then help someone else at a time when you might not be ready in your head. You can try to make the other person understand, but you already know that not everyone is willing to see your perspective. This is exactly why I call it a double-edged sword. While it can be extremely beneficial for your career, it can also set in some expectations that might get too much to deal with.

Parting thoughts

With the help of this course, I got reassured of one important thing. I am definitely going back to marketing for the entertainment industry. It was something that I genuinely loved but because of one sour experience, I gave up on it altogether. After a detour of almost five years, I think I am ready to embrace it once again. And what could be better than experiencing it afresh in a new country?

I finally started taking baby steps into networking. I connected with a few speakers on LinkedIn, thanked and spoke to some others. Now, it may or may not be fruitful in short term but I have come to understand that building bridges is going to help you one day or another. These connections will come to fruition someday and until then I am happy to keep walking this path and adding to my personal database.

Featured Image by: Helena Lopes on Unsplash

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