Just How Important is Networking?
One thing we've all learned as owners of a startup in Saskatoon is that the personal business relationship here is king. From looking for a career to looking for new clients, it's worth the time to stand up, walk out of your office, and spend some time and money at local networking events.
We're a digital media company. We believe absolutely that you need a strong digital presence, good SEO and a well optimized sales funnel as a key part of your business strategy. These are relatively passive ways of finding new clients, and if you are well established, very effective.
If you're new in your company, new to your industry, or new to the country, though, you need to know that the Saskatoon business community craves and thrives on socializing. Breakfasts. Coffees. Lunches. Seminars. Presentations. There are dozens of events every month, so find one that fits your needs and just go. Sure it's awkward to start. It can be tough to break into a conversation the first few times. You'll find out though, that networking events are filled with individuals there to...wait for it... NETWORK! Give it a try.
If you're new to the business community, we can relate. We're only 2 years in to our new venture, and we're working on getting out to as many events as we can each week. Here are a few ideas for new business owners to try out:
Yes they start early. Yes, they are usually worth it. The presentations are all great. The food is Saskatoon Club yummy. The attendees are friendly and engaged. Club Connect is every other Friday, and a good way to get ready to slide into the weekend.
Chamber on Tap
You don't have to be a Chamber member to join the crew at Lucky Bastard Distillery on the first Wednesday every month to hear a guest speaker talk about their business. This event is a great way to wrap a long day, with food, drinks and good conversation. The crowd is a good mix generally, so get your business cards ready.
Saskatchewan Young Professionals & Entrepreneurs (SYPE)
Great for a younger professional just starting out. You'll find plenty of like minded people, ready to chat and engage. The events we've attended are high energy and fun. Great opportunity as well to learn some presentation skills if you can get involved in the events as a presenter.
It's time to use social media for good! LinkedIn can be a great resource for connecting with business professionals who take their careers seriously. LinkedIn allows you to make connections based on who you know, and to send private messages to your connections to set up meetings and calls. Good way to start creating a network of people that you can then go out to meet!
Take advantage of any networking events held at the university or tech schools just to practice your casual, professional chit chat. Another great idea is to use your connections to find a business mentor who is willing to accompany you to events and show you the ropes. Our CEO and CTO attend events each week, and would gladly take along an aspiring networking genius.
Creating a personal network within the business community has so many benefits beyond just finding new clients or career potential. Everyone out there has a different professional story, and sharing those stories can open up new ideas, and get you tapped into the flourishing Saskatoon business community. Climbing the professional ladder or starting a new business can feel like a lonely endeavour, but it doesn't need to be. Reach out and someone will reach back - we promise.
Good luck and we hope to see you out there!