SMBYYC Recap: Come ELF Yourself!

I always love Social Media Breakfast. There’s something about being able to communicate with people on social media in advance, during a talk, and afterwards that makes everyone involved spectacularly friendly. Or maybe it’s just the type of people that come. Either way, #SMBYYC47 had all the fun and friendliness that I’ve come to expect out of these events.

This was a rare afternoon “breakfast” that didn’t feature a talk. Instead, the SMBYYC committee organized the December social as a fundraiser for a local charity. The Melrose Café (@MelroseRedMile) and KooL 101.5 (@KooL1015Calgary) were finishing up their #fillthebus campaign on Sunday, so this was a great chance to collect more donations for The Magic of Christmas. And since the campaign included a draw for tickets to an exclusive turkey dinner at Melrose, the winners could be announced during the event.

The featured photo for this blog post features Neil Zeller (@Neil_Zee), who donated his time and expertise to create “Elf Yourself” photos for SMBYYC’ers who donated to the campaign. He was also at last month’s event to shoot some free headshots for attendees. This month’s photos were a little less on the serious side, as The Costume Shoppe donated a trunk full of elf gear that everyone could get decked out in.

A little bit of goofiness for the holidays…
Elf Yourself: Jack Giesen and Glynn Stewart

My husband, Glynn Stewart (@foalanspen), and I took full advantage of the opportunity. Thanks to Neil for doing a regular headshot for Glynn as well!

Make sure to visit neilzellerphotography.com to see some great photos from all over Calgary1

Getting close to the #fillthebus milestone
Donna and Tony in front of the #fillthebus present pile

I really hope that Melrose met its goal for the campaign! The pile of presents sure looked big by the time we left. (And later.) Here’s Donna McTaggart (@donnamct) and Tony Johanson (@tnjohan) in front of the Christmas Tree.

Entering the draw!
3 Signing up for the draw with Haley K -hkemmer

The Melrose team knew what they were doing, and had a laptop at hand that people could use to donate. Afterwards, donors like Haley K (@hkemmer) could fill out a ballot and enter the draw.

Hanging out with some awesome people
4 Kali Readwin -KaliRS Brett Hopper -bhopps83 Stacey Perlin -smashingdahling and Kevin Olenick-s distinctive hat -kevole

Here’s the disadvantage to taking photos: you don’t concentrate on much else. Whatever the joke was, it’s a sure thing that Kali and Stacey were both in on it. With Kali Readwin (@KaliRS), Brett Hopper (@bhopps83), Stacey Perlin (@smashingdahling) and Kevin Olenick’s distinctive hat (@kevole).

Smile for the camera!
5 Brett Hopper -bhopps83 and Stacey Perlin -smashingdahling

I love Stacey’s method of posing for pictures. When in doubt, just have fun with it!

Tip: Looking like you’re having fun is the best way to make sure you look good in a photo. With Brett Hopper (@bhopps83) and Stacey Perlin (@smashingdahling).

P.S. Stacey: I’m sorry that Glynn was a brat about teasing you when you helped me with my shirt!

Pure magic
6 Ryan Pilling -wowryan performing magic tricks

Ryan Pilling (@wowryan) from WowFest—also a sponsor—delights us with his card tricks. Later, Ryan’s card tricks would be a welcome intermission from the list of 40 names being drawn for turkey dinner!

Sean’s tie steals the show
7 Sean Sandhurst -seansandhurst and Kali Readwin

There was a bit of a debate over whether Sean’s tie was orange or pink (or “salmon”) and what the best method of tying a skinny tie is. I vote for the double-windsor knot. Anyway, Sean’s tie eventually spawned its own hashtag. With Sean Sandhurst (@SeanSandhurst) and Kali Readwin (@KaliRS).

The final draw
8 Brett from Kool 101point5

Brett from Kool 101.5 had a list of 40 names to get through, but he kept it interesting. And he learned the trick to speaking at Melrose: never stand underneath the speakers.

I’ve always said that I only win prizes when it’s something that’s going to take a little extra effort on my part. Apparently, that particular kind of luck has rubbed off on Glynn: he won tickets to the turkey dinner Thursday night, so we’re both looking forward to seeing… well… everyone who was standing in our corner of the room, along with the rest of the Melrose crew. It looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun!

To everyone else, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Blessed Solstice. To get updates for the January SMBYYC, email smbyyc@kaos-consulting.com to subscribe to the mailing list, or watch the #smbyyc hashtag on Twitter.

Beyond Networking Events: Dec 16 – 22

Glynn Stewart's serialized novel, Starship's Mage: Episode 1

Starship’s Mage is one of the few space opera fantasy stories out there. Lead by the Mage King of Mars, humanity has finally figured out interstellar travel.

It was a busy weekend for the Glynn Stewart/Jack Giesen household. On top of a work Christmas party and #SMBYYC, the two of us were putting the finishing touches on Glynn’s first Amazon Kindle release, Starship’s Mage: Episode 1. Doing the cover art for the book gave me some ideas about keeping my drawing and digital painting skills sharp, so expect to see a blog post on that soon.

And in the spirit of getting back into art, this week’s events include a few creative choices! Just remember that all events require pre-registration, unless otherwise indicated.

Monday (Evening)
Creative Writing Club by the Calgary Public Library. Want to meet other aspiring writers? Get the ink flowing with some creative writing exercises and take this chance to share some of the writing you’ve done.
Time: 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Location: Central Library (2nd floor program room), 616 Macleod Trail SE
Price: Free with library card, register here 

Tuesday (Evening)
Closing Reception and Artist Talk – Rachel Duckhouse by the City of Calgary. Rachel’s work as an artist-in-residence became all the more challenging (and interesting) following the flood in June 2013. Learn more about how artists work with the city and watch Rachel present the artwork she created during her residency.
Time: 7 to 9 p.m.
Location: Water Centre (Bow River Room), 25 Ave & Spiller Rd SE
Price: Free, everyone welcome, registration not required

Wednesday (Evening)
Startup Drinks Calgary by Startup Calgary. Meet local entrepreneurs, founders, funders and enthusiasts and don’t forget to use #startupdrinksyyc on Twitter! Lots of very smart people who are all here to learn from one another.
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Amsterdam Rhino, 607 11th Ave SW
Price: Free, buy your own drinks

Thursday (Morning)
Calgary NW Networking Meeting by Calgary Business Network. An opportunity for business owners to meet up and network. According to CBN’s website, it’s fine to pay at the door, but tickets are also available on Eventbrite.
Time: 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Location: 7222 Edgemont Boulevard NW‎
Price: $16.36 + GST on Eventbrite

Friday (Evening)
Winter Hiking and Snowshoeing 101 by the Slow and Steady Adventure Company. Want to get out of the house this winter? Come to this meetup to learn how you can get outside and get active through snowshoeing. This class covers winter trip ratings, clothing/equipment, hypothermia, maps and more.
Time: 7 to 9 p.m.
Location: Marlborough Community Association, 636 Marlborough Way NE
Price: $20

Saturday (Evening)
Curator’s Talk with Steven Loft by the Esker Foundation. Celebrate the Winter Solstice in Inglewood with a look at the closing exhibition Fiction/Non-fiction. You might even get a chance to learn something new about the way you view the world.
Time: 5 to 7 p.m.
Location: Esker Foundation, #444 1011 9 Ave SE
Price: Free

Sunday (Afternoon)
Learning Lab: Google Drive by the Calgary Public Library. Google Drive and Google Docs are a fantastic way to share documents and collaborate on them in real-time. Get oriented in this one-hour Sunday session.
Time: 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Location: Central Library (3rd floor learning lab), 616 Macleod Trail SE
Price: Free, registration not required

Hosting an upcoming event? Know of a meetup group I should keep my eye on? Please leave me a note in the comments!

Feel like keeping an evening to yourself? Why not sit down by the fire with your e-reader and take a 99¢ chance on ? Or read more from Glynn at faolanspen.com.

Beyond Networking Events: Dec 9 – 15

Melrose Cafe & Bar Fill the Bus Campaign

From Twitter: “Matt & Emily are excited for another box of donations full to the @MagicoChristmas! keep it coming #yyc.”

I feel like half of the events that I go to take place at Melrose. Certainly, several events this week are located at Melrose Cafe & Bar, including this weekend’s Social Media Breakfast bash. That makes for incredibly good timing: it’s the last week of Melrose’s #fillthebus campaign to benefit The Magic of Christmas. If you stop by Wednesday’s JCI Christmas Party, Thursday’s Third Tuesday Calgary or Sunday’s SMBYYC, consider bringing a cash donation or a toy to contribute to the cause.

Monday (Evening)
Intro to Joke Writing Co-ed Class by ZEDS Communication Consulting. If you’re looking for a challenge, try this joke-writing class, hosted by Derek Wilken and Steele Duncan. You’ll get a chance to get up behind the microphone and share your jokes with the small group. If you’re still not sure, check out my recap of their last event.
Time: 6:30 to 8:15 p.m.
Location: ZEDS new HQ (207 14 Street NW)
Price: $10, RSVP on meetup or email eva@zedscc.com

Tuesday (Evening)
Pixels Christmas by Pixels & Pints. Anyone “even vaguely interested” in graphic design or web development is welcome to join Calgary’s designers and developers for a drink at the Rose and Crown Pub. Get a drink, relax, and talk shop.
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: The Rose and Crown Pub (1503 4th Street SW)
Price: Free, buy your own drinks

Wednesday (Evening)
Inaugural Meetup by YYC Young Entrepreneurs. Get together with other young entrepreneurs at this group’s first-ever meetup. Great substitute for an office Christmas party!
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Pig and Duke (1312 12th ave SW)
Price: Free, buy your own drinks

For an alternative, head over to the Junior Chamber International Christmas Party at Melrose ($37).

Thursday (Evening)
Adding Value to Sports Sponsorships by Third Tuesday Calgary. Yes, we know it’s on Thursday, but this social media club’s probably-official motto is “rarely on Tuesdays.” Even if your area of expertise isn’t officially in sports, this is a great opportunity to meet up with other professionals in social media, PR and communications.
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Melrose Cafe & Bar (730 17th Avenue SW)
Price: Free, buy your own drinks

Friday (Evening)
Ugly Sweater Christmas Party by AcceleratorYYC. This had to happen sometime… Calgary’s local startup accelerator offers the chance to schmooze with startups, drink eggnog and be considered for the prestigious grand prize of “The Ugliest Christmas Sweater.”
Time: 6 to 11 p.m.
Location: #200 1212 9th Avenue SE
Price: Free

Sunday (Afternoon)
#smbyyc47 by Social Media Breakfast Calgary. SMBYYC is a fantastic monthly event that shows us social media professionals that we always have something to learn. This month’s event is a social event and fundraiser that takes place in the AFTERNOON and will give you a chance to meet Calgary’s social media professionals.
Time: 3 to 5 p.m.
Location: Melrose Cafe & Bar (730 17th Avenue SW)
Price: Free to attend, but organizers ask that you bring a $20 cash donation or toy for the Melrose #fillthebus campaign.

Bonus: Neil Zeller will be taking professional photos at the event (individual headshots or group shots). For a $5 donation, you can pose as often as you like.

Did I miss anything? Leave me a note in the comments!

Beyond Networking Events: Dec 2 – 8

You might notice that I don’t have many events for you this week, but all isn’t quiet on the networking front. While public events sometimes slow down in anticipation of the busy holiday season, many of our workplaces, friends and family members are hosting great events for the holiday season. Relax, stick to what interests you, and make some time for friends and family.

A couple of tips for holiday networkers:

  1. Buy/RSVP all of your holiday party tickets now (if you haven’t already). Given that tonight’s Ad Rodeo and IABC/CPRS holiday parties are both sold out, I highly recommend buying tickets to Christmas parties well in advance. Let me know which ones you’ll be attending in the comments!
  2. Stay in tonight! The weather in Calgary is truly frightful, so look for a webinar, Twitter chat, or Google Hangout that interests you and dive in. Or just sit back and watch Agents of SHIELD.

Wednesday (Evening)
Repair Café by the Calgary Repair Café Association. Instead of throwing out old clothing, laptops, jewellery, bags or small appliances, why not meet up with Repair Café volunteers to mend, fix or repurpose broken items? If you’re looking for a break from the commercialism of the holiday season, this is be a good opportunity to meet like-minded Calgarians.
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: Thorncliffe Greenview Community Association (5600 Centre St. N)
Price: Free

Thursday (Evening)
“The Exiles” Film Screening by the Esker Foundation. This 1961 film by Kent MacKenzie is based on interviews with young Native Americans who left reservation life. The Esker Foundation is a privately-funded, non-commercial space for the arts in Calgary, and it hosts similar events on a semi-regular basis. Worth checking out if you’re interested in the topic or want to learn more about the city’s art scene.
Time: 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Location: Esker Foundation, #444, 1011 9 Ave SE
Price: Free

Saturday & Sunday
Look for a craft fair near you, meet the artists and get some local Christmas shopping done. Check out calgaryarea.com for some ideas.

What did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

HUG Lunch n Learn Recap: Blogging, Leads and SEO

How can you format your blog posts to better meet your business goals? How can blogging lead to more clients? On November 27, I went to an event by KAYAK Online Marketing to get their perspective.

Lyndsay Peters (@LyndsayAtKayak) actually left a comment on Monday letting me know about the event. Now that’s some effective blogger outreach!

Content Marketing from Randy Milanovic
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Randy Milanovic (@kayak360) gave a presentation highlighting some of the major rules of content marketing today. The most important one to keep in mind: you’re writing for your audience, not a search engine. As long as you’re making useful, relevant content, Google is never going to penalize you for it.

And here’s a point that I’m going to put into practice soon: if your blog content is 100% “give” (and it should be), you’re allowed to include an unobtrusive “ask” at the end of your posts. Give your readers the opportunity to subscribe to your blog or download a freebie… just don’t ask too much!

Social Media from Lyndsay Peters
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Lyndsay also shared how to integrate social media into your content marketing efforts. Her main point was that your website data can show you what people might want to read, but on social media, you can actually ask them outright!

Also, the old content that you’ve written doesn’t have to die in a lonely corner of the internet. If one of your connections asks a question that you’ve answered in a blog post, feel free to share! Just make sure that it’s genuinely helpful.

Informal Q&A with Randy
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How do today’s digital marketing agencies differ from traditional advertising agencies? Mostly in the way they charge their customers and measure success.

How effective is pay-per-click? Not very.

How fast should you get back to leads? Responding immediately gets Randy an 80% conversion rate (but you also want to make sure that you’re setting appropriate expectations with clients.)

Kayak plans to host lunch and learns about once per quarter. Keep an eye on their Eventbrite page for more information, and don’t forget to check out their Rules of Content Marketing Infographic.

#lolyyc Recap: Reinventing Holiday Letters

Holiday letters: they’re what happens when relatives dump their entire Facebook feed into a two-page letter.

Posted to my Twitter feed.

I suspect this might be because my mom doesn’t give out my address to relatives, but I don’t receive status updates via Canada Post (unless you count the occasional family photo.) From what I’ve heard, though, a lot of people do, and these status updates are incredibly long screeds detailing where a family unit spent its vacation and which awards the children won. So, pretty dry stuff.

ZEDS Communication has set out to change all that. In this week’s women-only writing class, instructors Eva Pettinato and Zoey Duncan showed us the power that comedy has over our relatives, and how we can use it to make them read our letters. (Getting our relatives to write letters that we’ll want to read is a little more complicated. ZEDS gift cards?)

My own family unit of two needs to write a bunch of wedding/Christmas/thank-you cards anyway, so I thought I’d look for a little bit of inspiration.

Getting started
lolyyc2

Eva made sure that Gay, who was Skyping in from Toronto, could see everything that was going on. It took a bit of trial and error, but we eventually just leaned the iPad on a book, which solved the problem nicely.

Breaking out the clipboards
lolyyc3

Here’s Debbie working on our first task: write the set up to the joke (the not-funny informative part). Pass your paper to a partner and have them fill in the punchline (the funny part).

One of my co-operative jokes:

Every time someone asks me what I want for Christmas… I pull out my grocery list.

Working with the mic
lolyyc4

Zoe got us set up with the microphone, and gave us a few tips for working with it. As far as I can tell, there are three rules to working with microphones.

  1. Check the sound in advance.
  2. Adjust the microphone to your height.
  3. Whether the microphone is on a stand or in your hand, never move it away from your face.

I’d also like to add that if you’re wearing a lapel mic to teach, make sure to turn off the sound when you’re helping an individual learner. Otherwise the entire room will hear your half of the conversation. Speaking from experience.

Presenting our jokes
lolyyc5

Zoe held Gay’s monitor up at the front of the classroom, so everyone got a chance to test out the mic.

I hate shopping in crowded places. That’s why I do all my holiday shopping at Sears.

- More bad jokes from me

Writing our holiday letters
lolyyc6

I had to duck out relatively early, so I didn’t get to hear everyone’s letters, but mine’s off to a good start.

Jack and Glynn get married in August, are prepared for anything. Perfect weather and no relatives fight. At all. Spooky.

All in all, I recommend ZEDS’ events to anyone who’s 100% ready to step outside their comfort zone. There can be some awkward moments when jokes fall flat and you knock over the microphone stand, but it can be a good introduction to public speaking if you want to jump straight in to the deep end.

Just realize that they have this in their office:
lolyyc7

Terrifying pumpkin art by Steele Duncan.

Beyond Networking Events: Nov 25 – Dec 1

This week, I’m featuring straight-up networking events, writing classes, productivity workshops, holiday fairs—and even a dodgeball night. Pre-registration is required unless otherwise noted; click on the title of each event for more details.

Monday (Evening)
Network Mondays by Calgary NW Business Network. Classic networking at Jamesons Pubs—talk about your business and learn about the other attendees. Meet potential clients and referral partners and build your network.
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Jameson’s Pubs, 3802 Brentwood Road NW
Price: Free, buy your own food

Tuesday (Evening – 3 spots left!)
Women-Only Comic Writing Class: Reinvent the despised holiday letter! by ZEDS Communication Consulting. Learn to reinvent the despised annual holiday letter so that your clan is passing around your update instead of burning it!
Time: 6:15 to 8:15 p.m.
Location: 207 14th Street NW
Price: $10, refreshments included

Wednesday (Evening)
Startup Drinks Calgary by Regus and Startup Calgary. Casual get-together at the Amsterdam Rhino downtown. The event Hashtag is #startupdrinksyyc.
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Amsterdam Rhino, 607 11th Ave. SW
Price: Free, buy your own drinks

Thursday (Evening)
Dodgeball – Bring it on! Do something different with the Calgary Do Something New Meetup Group: play dodgeball! This is not a competitive game—to quote the event description, “WE NEED TO WORK TOGETHER!” Rules on the event page.
Time: 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Location: FFCA South Middle School, 8710 Ancourt Rd. SE
Price: Free

Friday (All Day Workshop)
How to Get Things Done by Think Productive Canada. On the pricey side, but if you’ve been looking for a workshop to help you combat information overload, this might be the place for you.
Time: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: CREB, 300 Manning Road NE
Price: $425, includes workbook, ebook and lunch

Saturday (Afternoon)
Home Business Holiday Fair by Yna Hanson. Meet a ton of home business professionals at this holiday fair (click here for the business registration page) and peruse the arts and crafts available.
Time: 1 to 6 p.m.
Location: Marda Loop Community Association Hall, 3130 16th St SW
Price: Free admission, no pre-registration (tickets are for a raffle); $50 to $70 for a table


Have a question? Want to let me know about another event? Leave a comment below or get in touch with me by email.

#SMBYYC Recap: Crowdfunding for Business

It was a cold and very frosty morning, but plenty of #SMBYYC’ers made it out to hear Chett Matchett (@Chett12) speak about crowdfunding for business on November 22. This was the 46th episode of #SMBYYC (or Social Media Breakfast Calgary, to the uninitiated) and as usual, there were a ton of awesome people present.

I wrote about this event at the beginning of the week, and I’ll recommend it every time!

First things, first!
2-Jonathan-Cheng-and-Terry-Lo-SMBYYC

Jonathan Cheng (TheJCSuperstar) and Terry Lo (@calgarydreamer) kept an eye on the registration table as people started coming in. All us guests wear nametags with both our names and Twitter handles on them, which helps us connect our online conversations with our real life interactions—even if the font is tiny!

Upcoming Calgary Lifestyle Blogger
3-Keisha-Russel-SMBYYC

Keisha Russell (@krussellyyc) and I were both early birds, so we spent some time chatting about WordPress and blogging over breakfast and coffee. She’s a big fan of Calgary culture and plans to launch a local lifestyle blog sometime soon. Keep an eye on her Twitter profile for updates!

Meet Joy & Ursula
4-Joy-Neish-and-Ursula-Ducatel-SMBYYC

Joy Neish (@joyneish, left) has been coming to #SMBYYC events for longer than I have, and I got to learn about consulting and a bit of Calgary history while talking to her. She also introduced Ursula Ducatel (right) to the #SMBYYC community for the first time. I hope you had fun, Ursula!

Donna kicks things off!
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An interesting announcement this time around: all but two people gave #SMBYYC their Twitter handles during registration. Finally, we have proof that our peer-pressure campaign to get everyone to start a Twitter account is working!

Donna kicked off the morning by thanking the rest of the organizing committee (Mike Spear, Crystal DeCnodder, Terrence Lo, Gwyn Auger, Catherine Saykaly-Stevens, Kaela Caron, Laura Istead and Melanie Gowans) and sponsors. TweetWall Pro had an especially neat contribution: all the screens in the bar showcased #SMBYYC tweets.

Ad Rodeo Steps In
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So when Jonathan Cheng (@TheJCSuperstar) told the audience he had tweeted “Everybody cheer for me when I get on the mic,” of course that tweet popped up on the board immediately.

Besides which, Ad Rodeo provided the food for the event, so we were all on his side!

Chett Talks Crowdfunding
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“Social media is all about the online community meeting the offline community.”

Chett Matchett, #SMBYYC46

Chett pre-scheduled tweets to coincide with her talk, revolving around a conversation between her and a fictional character named @MisterSkeptic (I’m amazed that handle wasn’t taken.) Businesses use crowdfunding for three reasons: to get funding, to keep control (away from a bank or investor) and to build and engage community. For more information, check out the Storify I created that summarizes the entire talk.

  • Chance Meetings
    9-dolphinsdancer-and-Jack

M. Marcicki (@dolphinsdancer) and I happened to follow each other on Twitter at some point during the talk, and she figured out well before I did that we were sitting right next to each other.

You Never Know What You’ll Find at #SMBYYC
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Before and after the talk, Neil Zeller (@Neil_Zee) was offering free, professionally photographed headshots for #SMBYYC’ers. I saw plenty of tweets hailing his work as the best portraits they’d ever had taken, so be sure to check out his portfolio.

In Line for a Brand New Profile Pic
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Kevin Olenick (@kevole) having his photo taken by Neil. We had talked earlier via Twitter: apparently my “Hey, person next to me, we’re talking to each other on Twitter!” experience isn’t so uncommon at #SMBYYC.

Donation Drive at Melrose!
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Tony (seen here holding up a #FillTheBus t-shirt) was yet another person who recognized me from social media—I’ve mentioned @MelroseRedMile a couple of times before. Venue sponsor Melrose Café & Bar is actually holding a Christmas donation drive, with the intention of filling a whole Calgary Transit bus with toys and non-perishable food for struggling families. If you stop in for Melrose’s fantastic weekend brunch (or a drink after work), be sure to ask about it.

Finally, save the date for a December 15 non-standard #SMBYYC get-together. These events are a great chance to network with a group of like-minded social media enthusiasts—and it’s one group that won’t mind when you spend a good portion of the event hunched over your phone!

Read more about the event on Storify, and follow @SMBYYC on Twitter to get updates about future events.

Beyond Networking Events: Calgary, Nov 18 – 24

Calgary is a city of over 1 million people, so it’s not surprising that there’s a lot going on every week. If you’re a young professional and/or entrepreneur in this city, you want to get your name out there and build connections with people in your industry. But I’m guessing you’re also pretty busy.

Here’s the deal: every week, I’ll pull together a short list of networking events for young professionals and entrepreneurs. That way, you don’t have to dig through Meetup.com, Eventbrite and the various professional associations for a way to get out there. The catch? This listing won’t always include your traditional networking events. And to most people, that will probably come as a relief.

It’s a busy time of year, so here are my three rules:

  1. The majority of events will always be in the evenings (if possible).
  2. There will be a variety of events to choose from.
  3. You choose the events that work for you.

This week, I’m featuring events in social media, storytelling, design and entrepreneurship. Some events are more structured than others, ranging from dinner meetups to movie nights to “unconferences.” Keep in mind that most events require pre-registration; click on the title of each event for more details.

Monday (Evening)
#SocialMediaMondays by Stylewerx Communications. A casual meetup that gets together for great food and conversation about the Calgary social media community.
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: ZEN Japanese Restaurant, 414 – 3rd Street SW
Price: Free to join, but visit the restaurant’s website for menu prices.

Tuesday (Evening)
Reckless Writing: The Sixth Sense by the Calgary Public Library. Join Barb Howard, writer-in-residence, for an hour of prompted “fearless writing” followed by an hour of discussion. Leave your inner critic at the door.
Time: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Location: Memorial Park Library, 1221 2nd Street SW
Price: Library membership only, no registration required.

Wednesday (Evening)
Entrepreneur Speed Dating by AcceleratorYYC. Wannabe entrepreneur? Calgary’s entrepreneurial leaders will be offering their time this evening in a 1:1 speed-dating format. Choose your questions wisely: you only have 15 minutes.
Time: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Location: AcceleratorYYC, #200, 1212 9 Avenue Southeast
Price: free

Thursday (Evening)
Sign Painters Movie by the Society of Graphic Designers Canada. There was a time when storefronts and street signs were all hand-lettered with brush and paint. Learn about the resurgence of the trade and connect with local graphic designers over a beer after the movie.
Time: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Location: Kensington Plaza Theatre, 133 Kensington Rd NW
Price: $15 for non-members, $5 for students and members

Friday (Morning)
#smbyyc46: Crowdfunding for Business by Social Media Breakfast Calgary. Learn to use the right crowdfunding platform and create compelling campaigns—but more importantly, meet with the many social media professionals in the city who gather for this event once a month. Definitely worth checking out.
Time: 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Location: Melrose Cafe & Bar, 730 – 17th Avenue SW
Price: Free

Friday (Evening)
Startup Calgary Launch Party 2013 by Startup Calgary. Showcasing 10 of the newest and most promising Calgary tech startups, this annual celebration includes panels and presentations on entrepreneurship. Mix & mingle with an audience of entrepreneurs, investors, government, corporations and media.
Time: 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Location: UofC MacEwan Student Centre, 2500 University Drive NW
Price: $40 with promo code, $25 for students

Saturday (Afternoon)
Storytelling for Social Good 1st Anniversary Unconference by #SSGYYC. This volunteer-organized event lets anyone pitch their ideas for unconference topics and discussion: humour, guerrilla marketing, social media, whatever! You don’t need to be a communications expert, just interested in asking questions and making the world a better place.
Time12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Location: BoomTown Pub and Patio, 135 Southland Drive SE
Price: $25


Have a question? Want to let me know about another event? Leave a comment below or get in touch with me by email.

Choosing networking events that are right for you

Networking events are actively reviled by a lot of young professionals and entrepreneurs. “Networking” as a concept can seem sleazy, self-interested and profoundly hostile to introverts. That means networking events can have all the appeal of wading into a room full of salespeople, where you don’t know anyone and everyone wants to give you their business card.

It doesn’t need to be this painful, which is good, because networking is one of the most important career skills you’ll develop. With at least 70% of today’s jobs found through networking, it’s absolutely critical for a job search. Your network is made up of friends, coworkers, and people who trust you, and they can let you know about new opportunities, refer you for job openings and give you important information about the companies you want to work for. Networking is simply getting to know people, staying in touch with them and building trust—not a one-sided thing.

“Don’t think of it as networking; think of it as seeking out kindred spirits.” Susan Cain, author of Quiet

Opportunities for networking don’t always have to have the word “networking” in the event description. If you’re trying to expand your network, consider going to events connected to your interests instead of your industry. Plenty of people have met business contacts on the bus or at the gym—I’ve even received freelance work through my D&D group. Don’t underestimate the positive impact that “fun” activities can have on your career and your business.

If you want to grow your network by meeting people at events, this expands your options exponentially. How do you choose which events are right for you?

1. Know your goals.

Business cards by Flickr user DOUGTABERmedia

Definitely not Pokemon cards. Image by DOUGTABERmedia

Whether your overall goal is to seek out information about your industry, land a full-time job or find new clients, your goals for individual events are allowed to be smaller in scope. At most events, I aim to have one or two conversations with new people. It makes more sense for me to look for that one person in the room that I “click” with than to collect business cards like they’re Pokemon. (Note: if you do collect business cards in this fashion, you’re going to want to follow up with their owners.)

Having a clear idea of how you’d like to connect with your peers lets you decide what kind of event you’d like to sign up for. Do you want a traditional networking event? A presentation, show or talk where you can connect with others before and after? A workshop that you can participate in?

On a similar note, your goals can help you decide whether you need to go to events geared specifically towards your industry. Is that snowshoeing club worth your time even if you don’t meet up with someone who works in oil & gas? It might be, if your goal is to start meeting new people and get better at introducing yourself. Personally, I spend a lot of time with a group called the Chic Geek, which aims to get more women involved in technology—even though my area of expertise is communications and marketing. The startup and IT worlds need marketers, too.

If nothing else, you can always start a board game night for people working in your field.

2. Guard your time and energy.

Alarm clocks in case by Flickr user Salticidae

Image by Salticidae.

I know people that can go to events every weeknight, and others who can make it to several events on a Saturday. I am not one of those people. Since I know that I’ll be presenting this week for a few hours on Monday and Tuesday, my friends aren’t likely to see me until the weekend. I need that time and space to recover from being in a room full of people.

Know your limits. Figure out which events you can handle, and what you have time for. This might affect what type of event you choose. Do you have time for a breakfast meeting, a luncheon, after-work drinks or an evening event? Do you have the energy for a cocktail reception, or would it work better for you to go to a presentation, where mixing and mingling isn’t the primary focus? Also remember that you can leave early if you have to! You can plan this out in advance: try to have that one great conversation with someone and head out before you run out of oomph.

Above all, keep your goals in mind when you’re choosing networking events. Balance what you’re trying to achieve with the time and energy you have available, and try not to overwhelm yourself.

3. Find the cool people.

Find people you're comfortable with. TELUS Spark Adults Only Night.

Find people you’re comfortable with (at TELUS Spark)

I’ve heard that the easiest way to get through a networking event is to spend most of your time listening. That might be the case, but first you have to find someone to listen to. For a while, I would go to networking events and find one or two people that seemed just as out-of-place as I was.

“Hey, can I hang out with you guys?” I would say, “It feels pretty awkward hanging out by myself. What brings you here?”

There are probably better ways of phrasing that approach, but it worked well enough for me.

“Find the person that may be in your shoes—alone and perhaps not knowing anyone else in attendance.” Courtney Bosch, MarketingProfs

Whether you’re choosing an event or have already walked in the door, finding the people that you’re comfortable with can be a key part of a successful evening for you. Sometimes you’ll want to step outside your comfort zone, but before you get there, consider what you’d like to have a conversation about. Sports? Twitter? The Mars Rover?

And don’t forget: you can always bring backup.

4. Consider the target audience.

Mobile Monday YYC

Other events are pretty casual. (Mobile Monday)

There are worse things than feeling out of place, but they’re hard to think of when you show up at a semi-formal event in jeans. Event marketers generally have a target audience in mind for their events, and the marketing material—flyers, websites and even the type of marketing used for the event—often reflect that. Fitting in somewhere can often mean thinking about the age, income level and profession of the other people who are going to be attending.

But don’t think that being outside of the event’s target audience means you can’t go. Getting out of your comfort zone can be a huge positive step, especially if the other attendees are people that you want to work with or for. Just realize that you might stand out, take advantage of it if you can, and plan how long you’re going to stay accordingly.

5. Don’t wait for an event.

If you’re not up for being in a room of 10 or 20 or 100 people, why not reach out to someone you already know? If there’s someone in your industry that you’d like to talk to, why not ask them if they’ll meet you for coffee? (Tip: this is a great way to follow up with someone you’ve met at a networking event.) Another approach is to create your own networking event. If you’re in charge, you choose the place, the people and the theme. Just like you’re not limited to “networking” events, events aren’t the only places you can network.

What are your networking event tips?

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