Jonathan Kallner, event speaker and managing partner, KPMG, talks with Eli Joseph, senior account manager, business and personal, RBC Royal Bank, at Schara Tzedeck’s LinkYid networking event June 3. (photo by Baila Lazarus)
There is a theory that you are the average of the five people you hang around with the most. Thus, creating and interacting with a successful network of businesspeople should, over time, increase your own level of success.
With this in mind, Jonathan Kallner, managing partner, KPMG Vancouver, opened LinkYid’s first complimentary career networking breakfast with the topic, How to Unleash the Power of Your Network.
LinkYid is a Congregation Schara Tzedeck program that connects immigrants, professionals and entrepreneurs with mentors, employment and business opportunities that match their potential. They held their first event at KPMG on June 3.
“This topic ties into a core pillar in our strategy [at KPMG], which is community,” said Kallner. “We believe in building networks and helping networks succeed.”
Talking about his own experiences in school, in his job and the industry, Kallner admitted that, when he needed to make major decisions, he turned to his contacts.
“If you nurture the networks, they become your supporters,” he said. But, he added, “I didn’t appreciate how important that was until later in my career. I never realized what a difference there could have been in my life.”
Using Blockbuster as an example of failed relationship-building, Kallner pointed out how successful the video rental company had been, with an outlet in every neighborhood and relationships with everyone in the local community.
“If you wanted to watch a movie, you went to Blockbuster and, in four years, they destroyed it,” said Kallner. “Because they did not maintain the relationships with their customers, they allowed someone else to come in and own that relationship.
“It’s no different in our everyday lives,” he said. “The world can change around you but your relationships can stay constant.”
Kallner outlined four key points in building networks and relationships:
1. Know your goals. Each person needs to establish their own personal plan for their business, looking forward one, two and five years. Focus on the skills you have that you can capitalize on and what you need to develop. Use your networking connections to seek advice and consider it.
“When you’re looking at strengths and weaknesses, be very honest,” said Kallner. People looking to hire want to know that candidates have a good understanding of this, he said.
2. Consider getting a coach or mentor. Many of those who have gone before you in the industry will be willing to share their experiences with you, said Kallner. “They can challenge you to think differently and push your boundaries. They can act as a connector, help you develop your personal goals and work with you to define the next steps in your career.” Mentors will also be candid with you to encourage your business and personal growth.
“I still seek the guidance of mentors,” said Kallner, adding that the mentor or coach will also get value out of the relationship.
3. Build and work your network. Any search for business groups on Meetup will yield dozens of groups you can connect with in the Lower Mainland in any given week, but there are more and less effective ways of working your networks. Talk to new people at each event, said Kallner.
Respect their time and don’t be a salesperson, he added, as the key to networking is building relationships. “Don’t overlook how networks build naturally and don’t rush it,” he advised.
4. Take advantage of social media. While online presence is essential, especially when building your digital networks, there are things to look out for, said Kallner. Select the right platform. LinkedIn is considered the best platform for business operators. Others can be beneficial but you have to manage your brand closely, keep active on the site on a regular basis and make sure your profile is professional.
“Facebook can kill a brand if you’re not careful to be professional with your posts,” he said.
The LinkYid networking session drew students, entrepreneurs and professionals seeking work, looking for new hires or simply to start their relationship-building.
Erez Iancu Ben Haim, an MBA student at Sauder School of Business, was there to start building his connections and discuss his goals with people in the room. Eli Joseph, a senior account manager with RBC Royal Bank, wanted to meet some new people and find new businesses that might be looking for government loans.
“Being in the business world, people come to me if they’re looking for connections, as well,” said Joseph.
In closing his talk, Kallner reminded people of two key takeaways:
- Follow up after meeting with someone at an event with a personalized invitation to connect.
- Networking doesn’t only happen at events. It can happen anywhere.
Baila Lazarus is a freelance writer and media trainer in Vancouver. Her consulting work can be seen at phase2coaching.com.