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  • Writer's pictureTaha Habib

Networking in small business entrepreneur circles : Takeaways and Tips

Networking events can be scary. What if you don't know ANYONE? Well, that's actually even more fun and useful. These events can be essential to your business' growth, visibility and even snag a few sales in one night. The key to these networking events, I find, is to show up with manageable expectations, intentions to learn and have fun and a purpose to explore the tips and takeaways, and to put yourself out there.

In the last month, I attended 2 networking events that were different, yet technically similar.

In the picture: Welcome speech by YES Board President, Samantha Bateman

In this picture: Participants of the previous ELLEvate program cohort

The first one was hosted by the YES Employment + Entrepreneurship ELLEvate program for women entrepreneurs. It was held at a cool restaurant in Griffintown, with pizza and wine.

We met the participants of the last cohort of their program and got to learn about their entrepreneurial journeys navigating business and life as women. I got to speak to many women with very different projects and businesses, looking for community and mentorship, from each other.

It was really reassuring and comforting to hear the advise of women who have been entrepreneurs for years and have faced similar challenges, big decision-making moments, and also inspiring successes. In particular, a current business coach from the ELLEvate program, Miriam Gaudelli, took the floor and shared with us some of their key learnings from being a woman entrepreneur, and I found that it truly resonated with my own realisations that I penned in my article celebrating 6 months of being a self-employed consultant.

She listed the following tips, not necessarily in this order:

  • Don’t go at it alone, find or build your village.

  • Pick your clients wisely and set healthy boundaries.

  • Success takes time, don’t burn yourself out.

  • Invest time in getting to know your financials.

  • Give yourself business goals and hold yourself accountable to them.

The end of the event was a loose mingle where you can moment and it was great to speak to people about things that I have a passion for, and interestingly always ending up being about anti-oppression, DEI, culture change and dismantling our current frameworks of pseudo-feminisms that still fuel the patriarchy - such light and fluffy topic to end on, right?!

In this picture: Welcome speech by Andréa Pallotto-Feldenkrais, event organizer

In this picture: Post-networking coffee deep dive with Saski Miller and Jo Welch

The second one was a Queer Entrepreneur Networking Event hosted by Queering Business. It was held at Le Frigo Vert, a community space and health-food co-op located near the Concordia University, in downtown Montreal.

We listened to our guest speaker, Dibs Barisic Sprem, talk about the very unique services they offer to their clients who often fall under the radar and are overlooked by mainstream care and services in the fitness industry.

The questions and answers to this presentation were heavily centred around expectations, making mistakes, learning, unlearning, capacity and holding space for each other. The care and compassion that this community brings when they hold each other is special and it’s rejuvenating to be a part of. Later, I spent time getting to know the participants and sharing some tips and tricks, and discovering some very cool businesses.

The top tips and takeaways I keep going back to that came from this event:

  • Don’t limit yourself by minimizing your marketing to your immediate goals, give yourself a wide berth to develop and grow your brand in the future.

  • Your current service packages do not get to pigeon hole you into the type of work that may come your way. Find creative ways to challenge yourself and utilise your skills to bring a project to life with a fellow entrepreneur.

My favourite parts of both events were speaking with the other attendees and walking away with strong connections of doing something together. Whether it be a continued conversation over lunch unpacking our lives, a walk to the metro discussing our take on activism, or a coffee right after the event going over our work and trauma(s) - it was all magical and inspired so many things in me and my vision of the future of my brand.

I am looking forward to the next events, hoping to connect with more people who are ready to dive into more conversations and strategies of inclusion in their line of work. And I am looking forward to keep my budding relationship with the people I met at these events close to me and see where we can take our professional lives together!


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