A Networking Odyssey and That’s Final

The Marketing Seminar Series I participated in for class MARK 4029 has been genuinely interesting. It’s rare that a succession of presenters is lined up for your benefit in such an accessible manner. The fact that about a third to a half of the speakers were young and early-career did not detract from the overall benefit. While seasoned industry veterans can serve up the big picture, the younger interlocuters added a key element of relatability and plausibility. The sheer range of work and life experience represented was worthwhile.

Something I’ve come by honestly is my status as one of the top questioners in the entire program. I’ve always been a curious persona and I certainly didn’t take this opportunity to change that about myself. While one could argue that my copious questioning crowded out others, in many cases it seemed that my peers did not have questions ready to go. My questions were also more of the “tradecraft” variety rather than inquiries for the purpose of career advice. So, while fundamentally I think I posed good questions, they could have been somewhat more geared to the actual exercise. Truth be told, I do have the tendency to use networking interactions as outlets for my curiosity rather than career advancement, but I’m slowly getting over that as I have no choice.

Two speakers that stick in my mind are Lia Grimbeg and Ahmet Kul. Both exemplify what I would call “extreme competence”. Both have thrived in the more “technical” career paths marketing offers. Being exposed to such people is itself inspirational.

One regret I have is missing the seminar on “influencer marketing”. It’s a fascinating du-jour discussion but I justified my absence from that class as I was attending the Collision technology conference. Collision was obviously a great venue for networking, and I did converse with a handful of people at the event like the RBC technologist who explained his firms micro-tracking capabilities and the man who fleshed out the new Bell Demand Side Platform. The latter was a notable moment personally as just a few months earlier I wouldn’t have been able to understand what he was talking about, but in a serendipitous moment, networking and knowledge came together.

I’ve followed up with a handful of people I interacted at Collision and plan to take full advantage of the annual event, it’s in Toronto after all. Really, Collision is a must for networking. George Brown College did promote the event but ideally more could be done to integrate it with relevant programs at the college. That’s a lot to ask but I can only reiterate that it’s an incredible event.

Closer to “home” I’ve successfully networked amongst my peers and taken advantage of the wider George Brown College web of connection. As soon as my eyes opened to what was possible on LinkedIn, especially as a LinkedIn “creator”, I did not hesitate to “connect” with students and alumni of the Digital Media Marketing program. Initial exchanges of pleasantries gave way to in-depth conversation in a few cases and early career advice was kindly dislodged in my direction. I also added many of the seminar guests on LinkedIn and was sure to include a note of thanks for their participation.

In addition to the directly relevant and obvious connections alluded to above I also used LinkedIn to connect with people I respect in other fields who may be relevant to future career moves and paths. On LinkedIn I joined a handful of digital marketing groups and associations. These were less helpful as the element of “real world” connection was tangential to non-existent.

On campus I’ve attended a handful of peer events intended to encourage cross-pollination in the Center for Business ecosystem. While these events yielded a few of the kind of experiences described above, the sparseness and rustiness of Covid-era campus life certainly left me wanting more. I plan to stay in touch with my George Brown peers indefinitely, it’s tempting to say “forever”. While advancing in the field of digital marketing will be a positive outcome of this continued contact, a wider community of support is an even greater prospect.

As far as advice to impart, I would suggest that anyone trying to network must force themselves out of their “comfort zone” post-haste. There is a baseline of social confidence and self-assurance necessary to network effectively. The good news is that a college program affords the opportunity to network in a comfortable “low stakes” environment. Basically, if you can’t do it here you can’t do it anywhere. Finally, the most important thing I learned through the series of seminars and my wider attempts at networking is that everything is social. If you have social confidence and marry it to practical knowledge and skills the sky is the limit. A concluding thanks is due to all the speakers and Prof. Wendy Greenwood for running a very tight ship.

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