Branding Through Networking

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say networking is one of the most important ways to build your brand and business. This has been the case within several professional fields for decades and only seems to increase in importance with the role social media is taking in all aspects of business. Thankfully now, combining both face to face interactions and an online presence is easier than ever.

 

For some, networking in person is extremely natural. Social butterflies can be spotted at nearly every event, making their way around the room with ease and grace. These kind of people make networking at events look like a breeze. Others may experience more confidence networking in other ways, through social media. Both aspects of networking are valuable and offer benefits to your organization.

 

If you’re the type to naturally glide through social events, these are prime opportunities to connect with other valuable community members to share what you’re offering. And since networking loses some value once it becomes one-sided, the ability to get a glimpse into what others have to offer is another very important part of the conversation. Asking sincere questions and genuinely listening to the response is something that should go without saying, but it does tend to happen, and much too often. Replying with relevant comments and questions shows you’re engaged in the conversation. And obviously interruption is a networking no-no. Let them finish chatty butterfly!

 

These kind of events can also be tricky if social anxiety comes into play. If your strengths lie in social media networking rather than in person events, there are still ways to enter into social situations with care that add value to your brand. Social anxiety is more common than you may think, affecting 7% of the population at any given time. That number tends to rise as we get older, climbing to around 13%. It’s a great trick to go to an event with someone you know so the fear of approaching someone you don’t know is quelled. Ease potential anxiety however you may choose, taking breaks from the crowd whenever you need, etc. It’s not necessarily about how many people you can speak to throughout the course of the night, but the quality of your interactions.

 

Quality is of the utmost importance, especially since around 70% of positions are filled through networking opportunities. It kind of is about who you know, and while that’s not the case in every situation, having a reliable system for meeting people can certainly help develop your ideas, find the right people for roles you need filled and so much more. Social networks like LinkedIn or Facebook provide opportunities to showcase your strengths and stay in contact with those you may meet at events. Like anything online, be sure to connect with people you trust and don’t share anything you don’t feel comfortable sharing!

 

Networking can be as easy or as difficult as you make it. Being seen at events combined with a strong online presence are endlessly valuable tools to boost your business or organization and get the results you’re looking for.

Dining Etiquette at a Business Dinner

It’s important to present yourself in a professional fashion in any business setting—from networking events to meetings with prospective clients to job interviews—to ensure you make a positive impression on those around you.

 

Proper dining etiquette is not always enforced or practiced in modern society, but it’s particularly important to remember during a business dinner. Those around you are paying attention to how you conduct yourself, and how you behave throughout the dinner tells them a great deal about your professionalism. Below are some key etiquette tips to remember during your next business dinner.

 

Switch your phone to silent

This almost goes without saying, but make sure your phone is silenced before arriving to any business dinner. Do not take calls or check your messages until after you’ve left, and do not rest your phone on the table.

 

Shake hands

Upon arriving, shake hands with everyone present at the table. Make an effort to remember everyone’s names as you meet them, too. It’s also a good idea to wait until the host sits down before you do; however, this rule can vary from country to country, so make sure to do some research. If other guests arrive after you, stand to greet them. Unfold your napkin once seated and place it in your lap.

 

Order carefully

Business dinners often present the debate as to whether it’s appropriate to order an alcoholic beverage. In most cases, it’s best not to unless your host does or encourages you to do so. If you do order an alcoholic beverage, limit yourself to one and do not drink too quickly.

 

When ordering your meal, listen to what your host orders and follow their lead. For example, it’s best to avoid steak if they order a salad. Do not order the most expensive item on the menu, and try to choose foods that are easy to eat; burgers, spaghetti and ribs are all best left for more casual settings.

 

Eat mindfully

When your food arrives, make an effort to try everything on your plate, and do not ask to try anyone else’s dish. Do not rush through your meal and only cut small bites at a time. Avoid gesturing with your utensils, and do not hold food on your fork or spoon while you speak. Remember to keep your elbows off the table, too.

 

If you must leave the table for any reason during the meal, do so quietly and leave your napkin on your empty seat rather than on the table. When you’ve finished eating, place your knife and fork together on your plate—fork tines should face up and the knife blade inward—with the handles at five o’clock and the tips at 10 o’clock to signal to your server that they can remove your plate. It’s also not considered professional to take home leftovers.

 

Do not argue over the cheque

When the cheque arrives, do not argue over who is paying; the host should pay the cheque and the tip. You can make a tentative reach for your wallet and offer, but the host should politely decline. Be sure to thank your host as you leave, shake hands and maintain eye contact. It also doesn’t hurt to send a follow-up thank-you note or email the next day.

 

There are plenty of online resources available with more etiquette tips, but the ones above will help get you started. As stated previously, it’s always a particularly good idea to brush up on etiquette if you are dining in another country since customs vary from place to place.

 

Old Chicago in YEG

On November 23, the Parlour in downtown Edmonton will play host to “Old Chicago in YEG” and transport guests back to the iconic Roaring 20s, an era now immortalized for its glamour and sophistication. Often remembered as the time of Prohibition or the setting of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel, The Great Gatsby, the 1920s were a time of burgeoning modernity, illicit nightlife and unforgettable sartorial charm. In the first of a two-part series, you’ll learn more about what society was like during the 1920s.

Background

The 1920s, also affectionately known as The Jazz Age or Roaring 20s, were a time of sweeping social change and political evolution. Urban populations grew exponentially, with more Americans living in cities than ever before, and the economy experienced a period of fiscal prosperity. As opposed to the Great Depression of the 1930s that followed, the ‘20s were an affluent time that pushed the proverbial envelope, causing both controversy and celebration.

Consumer Culture

The ‘20s introduced mass culture to consumers, which meant purchasing consumer products such as ready-to-wear clothing, home appliances and radios—the catalyst for an influx of radio programming across the United States. But the arguably most important consumer product of the era was the automobile—particularly the Model T Ford, which in 1924 could be purchased for a mere $260.

Gender Roles and Fashion

A ubiquitous symbol of the ‘20s is, of course, the flapper. The iconic female figure is characterized by a short bob haircut and glittering fringed dresses. At the time, a flapper was a controversial young woman who indulged in allegedly “unladylike” behaviour such as smoking and drinking. While not all women prescribed to this lifestyle, they did
experience newfound freedom during the ‘20s. Women could vote for the first time, and many went to work at white-collar jobs, which allowed them to participate in the burgeoning consumer-driven society.

The Jazz Age and Prohibition

The accessibility of automobiles during the ‘20s gave young people the freedom to access entertainment unavailable to them in previous times. Jazz bands provided the nightly soundtrack at dance halls, and the genre’s rising popularity wasn’t stifled by older generations objecting to its supposed “vulgarity.”

Of course, one of the most notable aspects of the Roaring 20s was Prohibition. It may have been a time of modern innovation, but alcohol sale and consumption were strictly stifled. On January 16, 1920, the infamous Volstead Act shut down every liquor-driven establishment in the United States, and the liquor trade was driven underground—quite
literally—which was the beginning of illegal speakeasies and bootlegging. Those who supported Prohibition believed that eliminating alcohol would reinstate some of the values of earlier times, but it was abolished in 1933.

Now that you’ve got a primer on the Roaring 20s, stay tuned for the next instalment, which will provide some history about the Parlour, which was built 111 years ago.

EOCC City YEG: Bru Coffee + Beer House

Coffee shops and places to grab a cold beer are not in short supply, but how often do the two come together under one roof? Bru Coffee + Beer House, located in the heart of Oliver, has become the answer to this since it opened its doors in 2015, offering visitors high-quality coffee, local beer and a venue suitable for socializing or meetings. Bru achieved early success, claiming the 2015 Best New Café prize from Where magazine and amassing a dedicated following of regulars, which has only since continued to grow.

 

The Backstory

Owner Tina Wang is no stranger to coffee shops or bars, but she often found the former uninspiring and the latter too loud. As a solution, she decided to formulate a concept that would combine the best of both worlds.

“I think there are many young professionals who want to have meetings, but they don’t know whether to bring their meeting to a coffee shop or a bar,” she says. “At Bru, everything is here. I want to focus on high-quality coffee, drinks and food.”

Wang’s goal is also to educate people about quality coffee and local beer. Bru supports local breweries and family-fun businesses, offering a unique selection of brews—of both varieties—stand apart from the usual suspects populating menus around town.

What’s In A Name?

Wang originally wanted to use her middle name, lan, which translates to “Blue” and would have dropped the “e” to be “Blu”. The name eventually evolved into “Bru,” a nod to Wang’s initial concept while capturing the essence of the business.

“The logo is also simple, but the coloration represents what we do,” she explains. “One side of it has the colour of coffee and the other side signifies beer. I didn’t like the colors at first, but it grew on me because of the meaning behind it.”

 

Standing Out From The Crowd

Wang’s key components of success are quality, transparency and supporting local suppliers. Everything prepared at Bru uses natural ingredients while avoiding preservatives and added sugar. The business maintains a strong emphasis on transparency, educating visitors about where Bru’s products come from and providing information about ingredients.

“Everything is made with a health-first focus,” Wang says. “I have strong values, and everything at Bru revolves around my values.”

And while Bru focuses heavily on using local products wherever possible, Wang would like to branch out and explore unique beer offerings from further afield as well. She notes Aphrodisiaque by Dieu du Ciel from Quebec as one such example.

“We support them because they don’t have their own brewery, and they are from Quebec,” she says. “We like supporting businesses like us. We help each other.”

The Key To Success

Wang’s best tip for aspiring business professionals is simple: keep learning. Industries are ever-changing, and it’s imperative to keep up with new trends and learn new ways to improve your business.

What’s Next For Bru

In the coming years, Wang would like to see Bru be a driving force in elevating Edmonton’s coffee and beer scene while helping consumers make smart choices about what they eat and drink—and exposing them to new breweries and coffee roasters along the way.

“I want to educate people and inspire them.”

For more info on Bru Coffee + Beer House check out her website

Haven’t checked out the next event on November 23? Click here

The Importance of Community Investment

There is a plethora of responsibilities a business has to manage at any given time, from routine day-to-day operations to budgets to client meetings and balancing deadlines, but community investment shouldn’t fall by the wayside.

Community investment goes beyond goodwill; it means a business recognizes its responsibility to people and society. Recognizing this responsibility means a business uses its resources and influence to impact the community in positive ways.

Where to start

What’s good for a community is often good for business, and if a company can recognize its role within a community as an employer and service provider, citizens stand to benefit. Consumers also do more research into businesses they support, and strong community investment can often contribute to growing your customer/client base.

Of course, the best kind of investment comes from a genuine desire to help others rather than focusing strictly on business gains. Research community organizations that align with your company’s values and could stand to benefit from your involvement, be that in the form of staff doing weekly volunteering, assisting in the development of new programming, mentorship or regular donations—financial, supplies or even pro bono services

Employee Morale and Retention

Beyond benefiting local organizations, community investment has been shown to boost employee engagement and retention—particularly if they are able to make meaningful contributions to an organization that resonates with them. People want to work for companies that have a strong reputation in the community, and investing in that community will make strides in establishing that. The ability to volunteer within the community also opens avenues for employees to take on leadership opportunities and develop skills that will improve their performance in the workplace.

Strong Community Relationships

The development of a business and relationship development go hand in hand, and community investment ensures that your company is building and maintaining strong partnerships. Community investment provides endless opportunities for networking and encouraging other businesses to get involved, which only further benefits organizations in the community that need assistance most.

Investing in the community can also help build more personalized relationships with your client base. For example, if your company volunteers with a local charity you can host events and invite your clients to participate. This allows you to interact with them on a more personal level and strengthen your relationship outside the office.

Encouraging Inclusivity

Community investment is a key way to foster inclusivity. Anything that can be done to benefit a community is a step towards building an inclusive economy in which all demographics stand to benefit. Inclusive community investment initiatives can assist in supporting economic independence, fostering entrepreneurship and small business development, for example, all of which will help strengthen the local economy and create opportunities within the community.

 

 

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