"All it takes is a little bit of CURIOSITY and a splash of COURAGE to take that first step."
Published on LinkedIN: October 26, 2017
Fall signals a fresh start. A new school year, new routines, new opportunities to meet people and build relationships. Thrilling for some, daunting for others. It takes a certain amount of courage and curiosity to take that first step. We're all a little nervous, but then you meet someone interesting, and before you know it you're on your way!
This past summer, I had the privilege of meeting Ryan Knight, a friendly connection who invited me to attend a HackerNest Tech Social, an informal gathering of technology enthusiasts.
Upon my arrival I spotted a young man who looked as bewildered as I felt wandering around the lobby.
"Excuse me," I asked the stranger, "my name is Lori. I haven't been in this building for ages and seem to be lost. I’m in City Hall, right?"
"I'm Nick. Yes, you’re in the right place. Going to HackerNest? Looks like we're both early," he responded.
After exchanging pleasantries, Nick and I wandered around together and arrived at a very promising sign next to the elevator. Folks entering the lift all appeared to be headed in the same direction so we followed them, shimmying in like orderly penguins. "Are we all going to HackerNest?" I asked as the doors closed. "Yep!" a voice hollered from behind. On the right track I nodded to Nick. We proceeded all the way up to the top floor where we entered the Members' Lounge.
As soon as the doors opened “pod friends” (including Nick) quickly dispersed. I found myself in awe, standing in front of what I soon learned was the City of Toronto Council Chambers.
"Wow!" I commented out loud. "Yep! Cool, huh?!?" said a new voice beside me.
"That's where all the BIG decisions get made!" the young lady explained.
"Is that so?!?” I turned around laughing. “Super cool indeed!” I smiled in agreement. “Hello~ I'm Lori. This is my first time here.”
"Hello Lori!” She grinned in excitement. “I'm Kaitlyn! Me too! First time. I'm so excited! Norm's gonna be here!"
"Norm...?" I asked.
"Yeah, Councillor Norm Kelly! He's best buddies with Drake!"
"You know, Drake! The Rapper!" Kaitlyn giggled.
"Oh! Of course! Drake, the überfamous rapper!" I cooly quipped back. "So, Kaitlyn. How did you find out about this event?"
"My friend is really into this stuff. He's somewhere over there." She waved towards the crowd.
After registration, Kaitlyn and I headed straight for the pizza table where we continued our chat. At the age of 17, Kaitlyn is an active volunteer for the Toronto Youth Network (TYN) and a strong advocate for networking. She enjoys meeting new people and learning new things. She shared stories of her involvement in the TYN community with me and she remains grateful for all the new friends and opportunities she’s gained through her volunteer efforts.
I really enjoyed getting to know Kaitlyn. We witnessed long-time HackerNest supporter, Councillor Norm Kelly receive the DOPE award and hung out together for the rest of the evening. I got to meet her friend (who’s really into the hacking stuff), and even had a chance to introduce Kaitlyn to Nick. We had so much fun laughing and sharing stories that before we knew it, the night was over.
Looking back at the event that sparked our special connection, I am reminded about why networking is so important to our personal and professional growth. Networking is about meeting new people, exchanging ideas, learning from each other, creating new opportunities, and feeling inspired and connected.
Meeting Kaitlyn has taught me that you never know who will offer up a new perspective, spawn a challenge, or teach us something new; and that we are really not very different from one another. We are all in a continual pursuit of meaningful connections. To learn, grow, and evolve requires a strong community of people and a network of resources to help support us through our journey to greater success.
There is no perfect formula or guideline to build and cultivate such relationships. Just like going to school, joining communities, and trying something different, what truly matters is knowing that all it takes is a little bit of CURIOSITY and a splash of COURAGE, because it's never too early or too late to start networking!