Edmonton Business Networkers Huddle Together To Discuss Homelessness Over Beer

The ambiance was glowing and it was warm inside the lovely BRU Coffee + Beer House on Edmonton’s lively Jasper Avenue. Despite the fact that it was nearly -30°, dozens of people braved the cold outside to join us, excited about the night and our event. Bissell Centre’s CEO Gary St. Amand was the keynote speaker, and he delivered an impassioned speech about what his organization has done for the community, and what we can do to help our communities at an individual level. He discussed the fact that his team have reduced homelessness in Edmonton by 40% in the last decade — which is an extraordinary feat — yet spoke of it with a kind of wistful modesty; he did not even pause to celebrate in that glory, but instead was clearly  preoccupied and deeply driven by all that is left to accomplish.

While obviously the main goal of the night was to provide much-needed support for this crucial Edmonton institution, it also provided a safe space to facilitate a thoughtful conversation. When it came to the questions section following Mr. Amand’s speech, people asked thought-provoking questions, including: “What can we do on a personal level to help?”, “How will the soon-to-be legal marijuana industry affect crime and people currently earning a less than legitimate income?”, and “What percentage of the people you intervene to keep housed are children?”.

One of the most memorable takeaways from the dialogue was the revelation that the strain of homelessness to our social systems cost a lot more than emergency housing does. He discussed a very successful program they run, which he referred to as “eviction prevention”, and revealed that the average eviction costs the property owner $2,500.00, more than the average struggling tenant owes in arrears (a property manager who happened to be at the event attested to the fact). Bissell Centre aims to help people who are going through a rough patch by assisting them in repaying past-due rent amounts, which saves property owners money, and often costs taxpayers less than emergency housing or other types of social services might. You can see why this program is clearly very impactful.

In recent years, the Albertan city of Medicine Hat has made headlines for eradicating homelessness in their city using some — though controversial — clearly effective means. Like socialists have been theorizing for many years, Mayor Ted Clugston said that he and his colleagues found that paying for emergency housing for vulnerable populations directly translated to declining costs! Even The New York Times wrote about our modest little Medicine Hat as a champion of impactful policy-making.

But what is controversial about this in our conservative, capitalist community is that people don’t often understand that the concept of “you have to spend money to make money” is also true in effective governance, particularly when it comes to a housing crisis. Practice empathy: imagine trying to get (and hold) a job when a warm meal, a regular shower, and a good night’s sleep are unattainable luxuries. When you don’t have a computer to apply for jobs or print a résumé. When you don’t have access to a much-needed medication or service. Not to mention the fact that joblessness, debt, and overdue rent are all ‘snowballing’ issues. What society underestimates is the innate desire a majority of these people have to return to being productive, purposeful, tax-paying citizens. This is one of the insanely rare and beautiful moments in life where doing the right thing is also doing the fiscally responsible thing.

What does this mean to you?

If you think taxes are too high, are spent ineffectively, and feel sick to your stomach about all the suffering homeless people in our otherwise beautiful city, vote for lawmakers who support similar inclusive policies on housing the people who need it most.

If you are interested in attending networking events for a good cause, please subscribe here.

What can you do to really make a difference?

Put your money (or time) where your mouth is!
Have a corporate charity budget to spend, or even a little extra spending money to help someone in need? You can donate to Bissell Centre quite easily by clicking here!

Want to impact your community with your time? We host tons of amazing, fun, charitable events that involve networking with like-minded people and helping make a difference. If you’re interested in getting involved and having a great time, contact us here!

For more information about homelessness and its correlation with criminality, please read this in-depth article: “Deterring and Punishing is Actually Accelerating and Harming: Modern Society & Current Youth Justice Systems as Accelerants of Mental Illness, Homelessness, and Criminality”.

A Network of Parallel Principles

Community is more than just a buzzword used to give shape to countless sub-genres of society. It’s about working together to create something bigger than ourselves. Something that becomes tangibly rewarding for several members of the world around us. It’s anything but selfish. Within the sub-genres mentioned earlier, the initial goal of gathering may not be selfless, but when groups of people come together with a common interest, change begins to affect society as a whole. Volunteering to raise money for groups who offer support services to marginalized groups within our greater communities, participating in the creation of art and music to add substance and beauty to the world, or simply supporting local businesses with honourable morals. There are many ways to participate in generating a sense of healthy community.


The natural expansion of different branches of community lends itself to the greater benefit of a thriving society. Whether the community is based within a social media platform, professional organization or a fitness community, the goal is always to connect with each other. Expressing shared values and interests validates the human condition, even if the validation comes through something extremely simple, like taking care of one’s health. It’s not news that having a work out buddy makes it easier to commit to a fitness routine. Those that lift together, stay together.


As we validate our own triumphs and challenges by connecting with others, we actually set ourselves up for success in the long term. Studies have shown those with active social lives and support systems in place generally live longer than those without. The natural instinct to connect with others is a built in mechanism to support our mental, physical and emotional health!


While the concept of community seems to be ever evolving to include more and more sub-genres, some health related and some not, there are always constants when it comes to the growth and establishment of whatever commonality is shared among us. Reaching out to others, whether at a networking event, on Twitter or connecting with a volunteer organization is the key to that growth. To establish community we need to be willing to put ourselves out there in an honest way so others may feel inspired to do the same.


A thriving society is one where we all benefit from the creation of opportunities. This happens when we allow ourselves as individuals to be innovative. Communities thrive on the innovation of individuals who dare to connect and share their discoveries with those around them. What can we teach each other? How can we lift each other up to create bigger and better things to impact the planet in a positive way? Once we begin to ask ourselves these kind of questions, opportunities present themselves so we can make the decision to be vulnerable for each other. To empower each other, our local networks and beyond. When we start to liberate ourselves for the very human sake of connection and sanity, we ultimately contribute to the global community. We all rise.

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.


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