Milton Escarpment Toastmasters Hosts Effective Networking Panel Discussion

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Image Credit: Cytonn Photography / Unsplash

What is one essential skill for career development, business development, and community connection? It’s networking.

We’ve all heard how most jobs available can only be found via the ‘hidden job market’. We wonder how businesses find the people they need to grow. It’s networking.

Yet networking is a skill that many struggle to master. People who are shy, who perhaps identify as introverts, often do not like the idea of networking. It may remind them of being at loud parties where they struggle to be heard or where they feel awkward, not knowing something witty to say.

Yet networking need not be like this. Even very shy people can learn and master the skills of successful networking – they just need to be shown how to do it, and have their questions answered as they are picking up the techniques.

On Thursday March 10 Milton Escarpment Toastmasters decided to offer a very different take on the usual club meeting. This was a panel discussion on networking to help members and others explore what networking means and how it can help anyone.

Charmain Smillie, Senior Director, National Accounts at FuzeHR Solutions, Karen Pantaleo, Club President and HR Strategic Partner and Consultant with Red Oak HR Solutions, and Andy Sheridan, Club Secretary and GTA Mortgage Agent with Chartered Finance, fielded questions from moderator and club member Suzanna Samaroo. Following a lively conversation full of insights about networking, smiles and laughter, club members were invited to send further questions via the Zoom chat. There were so many good questions that time ran out on the session. The extra questions were then fielded by the panelists during the meeting break.

Questions covered topics such as what to wear when networking; how social media should support one’s networking efforts; how to follow up after connecting with someone, what to expect from networking, and how to handle networking efforts that weren’t successful. In addition, panelists described how self-described introverts can network: that networking is often about building relationships and seeing sales further along in the relationship, rather than a hard-sell approach to signing a contract. Sometimes a gentle, quiet style can work brilliantly building relationships rather than a more direct ‘let’s get this done’ approach.

Guests and members alike commented that the session was extremely helpful. One member stated that he was taking notes throughout the event.

We look forward to more panel discussions like this! Of course, most of the time we will focus on our normal meeting format to ensure members have full opportunities to meet their Pathways training objectives. However, on occasion it is fantastic to mix up the normal meeting style a bit and include such energetic and helpful conversations. All our members benefit as a result. In fact, panel discussions like these foster a kind of networking, because we get to know each other that much better. Some members, following the meeting, have even connected with each other on LinkedIn!

Created by Bryn Snow DL4, MS1 Immediate Past President Milton Escarpment Toastmasters 2021-2022