Tag Archives: networking

Overcoming “Stranger Danger” with the Power of Conversation

“Stranger danger” is a catchy phrase coined by Keith Rollag in his 2015 book, “What To Do When You’re New”. It’s what some people experience whenever walking into a room full of strangers at a conference, event, or meet up.

Of course, there’s that nagging added pressure from your boss, reminding you to “make good connections”.

Susan Jeffers, the Guru of Fear,  was an American psychologist and in her popular 2011 book , “Feel the Fear … and Do It Anyway, she delves into the different types of fear and how to handle them.

So what’s the price you’re willing to pay by not introducing yourself to someone new who could help with information that might lead to a first job, a new job, a change in career so that you can do something passionate day in, day out?


And what’s the price you’re willing to pay by not walking up to someone who could be a potential mentor and shaking hands and instead you end up staying lost in a sea of indecision and quandary?

What’s the price you’re willing to pay by not meeting and greeting potential clients who could become your clients so that you can turn your business around?

That price is steep. How can the power of conversation help you connect better with someone new? “Fearless Networking: Connecting Creatively and Confidently” is our half-day professional skill-building workshop at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies and open to everyone! Learn how our “Five Hacks for Powerful Networking” can help you handle “stranger danger”.  We’ll also take a closer look at your current network and learn how to make it more effective. Why not register and jump in on a Saturday morning session – Feb 23rd or Jun 15th?  Discover and then boost your networking IQ!

The Art of Conversation – The Toronto Dream Network

Dream Network #7 – JANUARY 16, 2019 

Our groups have been averaging 6 or 7 which turns out to be our sweet spot.  We were 8 this drop-in #7.

Fun fact – 3 of us were born in Canada – Ottawa, Toronto, Moose Jaw and the rest were from Sri Lanka, S. Korea, Moldova, Iran, Pakistan!

An interesting map of all the places we discussed and


  1. Not only is the AGO free after 6 on Wednesdays but also AGO is free for students AGO Free After Three  for youth ages 14 to 25.
  2. One of our members got his first full time professional job in Canada at OMD!
  3. We toured Singapore, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka over the holidays via slide show of  spectacular photos taken with a new Google Pixel 3 XL of family, tea plantations, food, and the Lexis Hibiscus in Port Dickson, Malaysia.
  4. New friends, a Chem rockstar from SDZ Ryerson and an Iranian Azeri now living with his roommate from my hometown Moose Jaw and working as an engineer in Vaughan. We heard a fascinating tale of true grit chasing a dream of becoming a helicopter pilot.
  5. Another member took time out from working on her Master’s in Public Health and her practicum at Baycrest Centre . Lots of talk  on how to take care of dogs, big (Ridgeback) and small (Maltese) and the most unusual and remarkable thing that dogs can learn how to do.

Introducing the new $245 m Calgary Public Library, East Village near Downtown Calgary Dec 2018

  1. Drone pilots might be the trending skill in demand.
  2. It’s been almost a year since two of our members attended my networking workshop: “Hacking the Networking Code” at U of T SCS. Renamed “Fearless Networking – Connecting Creatively & Confidently”, our next workshop is now a new half-day format on Feb 23rd from 9am to 12:30pm.
  3. Two more upcoming networking events which I’ll be facilitating:
  1. Our friendly barista at AGO Espresso Bar is a also Psychology student at York U and is  a musician who loves to help people. He traveled to Chang Rai, northern Thailand, 4 years ago and volunteered for 4 months at “New Life Foundation” a mindfulness support center set up by a Belgian entrepreneur for those who are recovering from addiction.

Thanks everyone for sharing. Our next meetup is February 27, 2019 and an invite will be out soon. Guests are most welcome.

How Improv Can Help You Become a Better Networker



Sapphire neon tumbleweeds, 2016
Dale Chihuly (American GLASS ARTIST, b. 1941

Improv or improvisation is often thought of as comedy with quick and snappy witticisms and can be very entertaining. The Second City is “The World’s Premier School of Comedy”! Who else has alumni such as John Candy, Tina Fey, Mike Meyers, Alan Alda, Steve Carrell, Eugene Levi, Amy Poehler to name a few?

As a recent grad of “RewireU”, an intensive 2.5 day improv workshop at Second City this summer, I aspire to the next level of improv classes. And I have also made improv an integral part of our #networking workshops at University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies.

“Yes and” (The Second City mantra) here are the 5 ways that #improv can help you become a better networker:

  1.  Make friends with uncertainty and change – be comfortable with reacting in unpredictable situations.
  2.  Get clear value – gain clarity on how you perceive yourself, what you bring to the table, and how you describe what you have to offer, your “brand”, your value.
  3. Act decisively – make quick decisions and be comfortable in changing your decisions.
  4. Build self-confidence – learn to speak clearly. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Get comfortable with silence and the power of the pause.
  5. Know your physical presence – how do you stand? Where do you sit in a meeting? How do you enter a room?

Why not join us on November 3rd Saturday to learn more about “Hacking the Networking Code”? Discover how you can shift your mindset from seeing networking as a necessary evil to creating opportunities for growth and building quality relationships and an amazing network. “Yes and” click here to register now or contact Jean Chow at info@msbizwiz.com for more details.

The Power of Being a Newcomer Professional

Some see networking as a necessary evil. Having worked with newcomer professionals from all over the world, I don’t doubt they would agree – wholeheartedly. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Shifting perspective, having empathy, and being courageous goes a long way. In Daniel Pink’s 2016 convocation address to the graduates at Georgetown University, he asks them to do a simple test, drawing the letter, Capital E, on their foreheads. Not meant to be overly scientific but a quick snapshot on perspective-taking and how we see and communicate with others, take the test here.

In my networking workshops, I use two examples of how empathy can help shift perspectives for newcomer professionals. As learners living and working (hopefully) in a new cultural environment, they see themselves in a new light as they are constantly tested and face seemingly insurmountable barriers of communication.

In my first example, I set the scene by asking our learners to imagine themselves at a reception at an industry conference. Someone new approaches them and they stumble through a self-introduction. I ask, “How do you feel when this person is trying so hard to take the first step in introducing themselves?”

With our second example, I ask them, “Now how do you feel when someone asks you for help? Depending on the context, most likely, you would be open to helping them, right?”

“Now how would you feel if the situations were reversed?” I.e. how do they think the person listening to them would feel if they stumbled through a self-intro and that they were being the ones asked for help. Why would it be any different than when they were the listener?

Stories about my overseas experience working in Africa and Asia also as a newcomer professional has given me invaluable insights in relating and sharing with newcomer professionals to our country and whose English is their second/third language.

While living and working on a somewhat remote island, Sulawesi in Indonesia, all I could do was smile when I arrived, not knowing how to say “good morning”. In my first month, our project team leader sent to Yogyakarta for intensive language training, one-on-one with university students as tutors in a professional language training school, eight hours a day, and living with a home stay family for three months. I knew how it felt to speak like a kid in kindergarten when what I needed to express were concepts a bit more complex to my Indonesian staff.

Our newcomers in Canada have the added pressure of trying to find a job mid-career and maybe changing careers while providing for their families in a new country. It is a major sacrifice they have made for their future generation and is not for the faint-hearted but for the whole- smart- and brave-hearted.

What newcomer professionals bring to the workforce is untapped global talent and we would be remiss if we do not listen, engage, and be open to someone who is different from ourselves. Living in a digital age, the barriers will and are falling away more rapidly but our mindsets must also adapt and be agile enough to realize the potential and power of different points of view.

As Stephen R, Covey, the bestselling author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” wrote, “Valuing the differences is the essence of synergy – the mental, the emotional, the psychological differences between people. And the key to valuing those differences is to realize that all people see the world, not as it is, but as they are.”

Perspective, empathy, and courage are essential for powerful networking not only for newcomer professionals but also for us to connect with others and also for us to help others connect. As newcomer professionals, network, introduce yourselves, and be of service to others are the first steps in building great relationships and being a part of a kinder, wiser, and more giving global community.

The Power of Networking

There is no algorithm nor app for success.  In fact, Albert Einstein, would rather you “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”  Of course, he meant “person”.   Your work does not define your worth.

In her article in The New Yorker, May 29, 2017 in “The Work you Do, The Person You Are”, Toni Morrison wrote, ” You are not the work you do; you are the person you are.”

Now I’m no subject matter expert.  My interests run wide but not deep. I have no letters behind my name although I graduated with a college diploma in Accounting.  As the years fly by faster now and ageing is indeed a privilege,  I’ve been called upon on occasion to speak in front of youth half but sometimes a third of my age.  And I’m always stumped. What could I possibly share that’s relevant, somewhat lively, and entertaining. Accounting???

So last November 2016, the Toronto Public Library asked me to present a seminar on networking: “Network: Anytime, Anywhere with Anyone” a bit broader topic than say, Accounting, and it became the inspiration for my newly announced full day workshop: “Networking:  Connecting to Create Possibilities” with registration now open!


For those who know me well,  it’s no surprise networking is my superpower.  However, we seldom see and recognize the things we do innately.  Is networking a defined skill? Networking is about people, who you are, and being of service to others.  It’s about connecting with people and in turn, connecting them to others to build and foster community.

As Thich Nhat Hanh, the notable 91 year old Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, wrote, “it takes only one word, one thought, one action to change the world.”  Allow me the opportunity to present networking in a new light and bring you closer to your life goals.

Hashtag Talk #7 – #PokemonGo & Flash #Mentoring


#DoingGood #SomethingGood

#karma #inspiration

#brainstorming #networking

#mentoring #coaching

#jobskillsforyouth #disabilities

This week @HBKidsHospital reception,  I found #inspiration! I spotted a young girl in her wheelchair, swiping fast and furious on her smartphone.

So I sidled over, “Are there any  #Pokemons here?”  She grinned, “Nope!”  I showed her my screenshots of the Pokemons caught at @hudsonsbay the day before and said, “Look, they got me another 20% off!”  We introduced ourselves and laughed!

I was meeting the CEO and Ms M was checking into her Youth@Work, an incredible program for high school students, age 15 through 20, (she’s 16) with #disabilities the opportunity to learn practical work skills through #coaching and short term placements. #jobskillsforyouth

In thoughtful detail as an event planner for a charity,  she described how she was planning a fundraising dinner for 20 for her placement.  The menu was difficult for her so we did a bit of  #brainstorming.

“How about food reflecting her colour theme – green and white?”  Ms M lit up! “Marshmallows! S’mores with shortbread cookies! Ice cream sandwiches with dairy-free gelato – vanilla, pistachio AND donated by my gelato-producing clients! #DoingGood Chicken, mushroom and white wine sauce, kale almond salad, spinach” We were on a roll. #SomethingGood

She  suddenly stopped, “Oh, I have to get permission.”  I said, “Of course.”

Did she know the word for what just happened?  “Advocacy?” she hinted.  Impressive! “How does #brainstorming and #networking sound?”  She nodded happily.

I jotted a few notes on my business card, handed it to her, and suggested she pass along to the Program.  Will they call?  Let’s see.

The CEO thought it was #karma !