Friday, May 30, 2014

Networking With New Friends at The Spoke Club

Most people cringe at the thought of networking. I know I did before I left the corporate world and even after starting my biz I knew networking was crucial yet still felt overwhelmed about all the different networking events and groups out there. It also took quite a few years to get confident and comfortable with introducing myself and to understand how to really nurture relationships when meeting so many people. Good thing I did though -- otherwise I wouldn't be writing for The HIp & Urban Girl's Guide because I met Lisa and Wendy through a networking event they hosted way back when.

Today, when people ask for advice about networking I always recommend finding a space and community that you really love being in regularly because truthfully the best connections happen outside of those typical business card slinging events and actually you don't even need to own your own business or be self-employed to reap the benefits of building a great network. Networking is about creating relationships, not handing out business cards. This is why even before I became a member at The Spoke Club, I relished every opportunity to stop in as a guest and partner with friends who were members to host events there. Something about the understated sophistication of the space and the energy of members always appealed to me. As a member now I'm loving that I can make new friends casually between client sessions and meetings but also in a more deliberate way at the monthly member events designed to bring us together. For example, just this week the club hosted Barbara Katz of Flirt Factor as facilitator of a special "Networking 101" workshop and every month there's a New Member Mixer (with complimentary wine!!!) plus an array of other social events on the calendar.

So who else is trying to create new connections as members of The Spoke Club? I asked two of the newest members to my own personal network that I've met at the club and a bit about why they decided to join:
New Friend #1: Amy Follwell, Fine Jewellery Concierge - Bijoux by Amy 
Creative Superpower: I created my business to act as an Fine Jewellery Concierge to clients. While working in the industry, I have noticed that many people are overwhelmed and often intimidated when purchasing an engagement ring. My role is to decipher the important details, ethically source the gemstone and collaborate with the client to design a beautiful piece of jewellery. This guarantees that the customer will get a unique ring without the stress and pressure that is often felt in a typical retail setting. 

Why did you join The Spoke? The Spoke Club offers many benefits for my line of work and lifestyle. Exposure to the creative community provides priceless networking while the organized events open my mind to various styles and industries. The Club is a wonderful place to work for an afternoon and also sets an impressive tone when meeting or entertaining clients. 

Favourite way to work and play at the club? Enjoying Saturday steak night (with no corkage fees!) or settling into a spot on the rooftop to work in the sun or unwind with a delicious, signature cocktail. 

Advice for the networking novice: Both of these tips have had equal value to me: 1) Be assertive, own your power and display confidence in yourself; and 2) Be present, pay full attention, make eye contact and genuinely engage when speaking to someone. There is much to gain from others' experiences.

New Friend #2: Sebastien Howden, Creative Director - TUNJI Designs
Creative Superpower: I help companies make a lot of noise in the their respective marketplace via establishing powerful brands that connect and engage.

Why did you join The Spoke? I wanted a cool place to work, a cool place to bring my clients (cool defined as: vibrant, alive, relaxed yet professional) and to the right place to meet and expand my network of colleagues, partners and associates.

Favourite way to work and play at the club? My favourite way to work at the SPOKE is the members lounge, I feed off of the energy that fills that area at any given time of day. Favourite place to play is definitely the outdoor patio on the 5th floor with a Patron on ice in my hand and in the presence of other powerful creative minds. 

Advice for the networking novice: The biggest networking tip that I've learned is to network with people who are more successful than you. BE WHERE YOU WANT TO BE.

These are just a few of my new Spoke friends but I've also met cool peeps in all sorts of creative industries from art and entertainment to law and landscaping. If curious about the club and want to check it out, tweet me. I also love that rooftop patio and almost never refuse the chance to make a new friend over a glass of prosecco and a lunch of the club's amazing seafood chowder (hint!).

~ Tamika Auwai is our resident Style Editor, Shopping Enthusiast and Wardrobe Expert.

Top image credit: Kathleen Joy Burns

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