How To Network Authentically

Toronto’s rich business ecosystem is only as beneficial to your career as you want it to be. Each day in this bustling city, tens of thousands of people network with one another (in varying degrees of intentionality) both online and offline.

Workshops, seminars, conferences, forums, and all sorts of in-person and virtual gatherings are just one Google search away. The question is, are you ready to show up? And if you are, do you know how to network authentically?

Research has found that people who engage in “instrumental networking,” where the goal is career advancement, made people actually feel physically dirty. So dirty, in fact, that they thought about showering and brushing their teeth!

As students, it’s understood that for the sake of our careers, you must constantly expand your network of potential employers and partners. But how can you do that without repulsing people? Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone, suggests ditching traditional networking altogether. 

Those who are best at it don’t network – they make friends.

. . .

Business is a human enterprise, driven and determined by people…When you help someone through a health issue, positively impact someone’s personal wealth, or take a sincere interest in their children, you engender life-bonding loyalty.

Opt for spontaneous networking, where the goal is simply the pursuit of emotional connections and friendship.

Now if your first instinct is to attend a networking event and distribute business cards, think again – traditional networking aka “dirty networking” actually makes people feel physically dirty and is an ineffective way of making a name for yourself.

In addition, building social currency is about being honest and authentic, and showing that you value others. In their Social Capital Building Toolkit, Harvard University researchers Thomas H. Sander and Kathleen Lowney, share some high impact and more natural ways to build social capital. 

Building social capital

For example, these are the ways you could build social capital:

Food/Celebrations. ie. host a start-up open house or celebrate your agency’s anniversary.

Joint activity around common interest or hobby. ie. organize a team of friends or colleagues and play agency ball.

Doing a favour for another. ie. help another company move into their new office or volunteer space for a meetup.

Discussion of community issues. ie. talk about poor trash pickup or organize a town-hall about bike lanes.

Undertaking a joint goal. ie. create a meetup or collaborate on bringing an event to your city.

Intentional relationship building (“one on ones”). ie. set up coffee dates with people you want to know.

To enjoy all the benefits of social currency, you first have to build it. Then be patient and let your relationships mature organically.

In case you wish to learn it through experience, you should join our programs and network with your new international friends and our large network of partners.

One of them is George Khalife from League of Innovators who prepared a short video about offline networking. Check it out here.