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What’s the buzz with Bumble Bizz?

Bumble, a dating app where women make the first move, is expanding into the business world. Users can now use Bumble Bizz to make connections within their city — the perfect networking tool for introverts (or just people living in the twenty first century).

While people of all sexes and genders are allowed to participate through Bizz, the app follows the same principle as the dating platform. Women must make the initial contact. According to Bizz, this is meant to encourage more women to be active in the business community while still feeling comfortable and safe in their environment. Users will be connected to potential mentors, partners, and business contacts.

“By empowering women to make the first move in Bizz, Bumble expects to see the same significant uptick in positive behaviour and dramatically reduced abuse rates that it has seen in its dating and friendship platforms,” the company said in a statement.

How does it work? Instead of including your likes and dislikes in your profile, Bumble Bizz allows you to include a digital resume and list of skills and accomplishments. Included would be a short description of who you are, what you do, and what you are looking for on the app. All profiles are put through a photo verification process to ensure security.

Similarly to the dating app, you swipe left and right to connect with people. And if you are lucky, maybe Bumble will hire you! The company has said they will hire 10 people they discover on the app.

In this day and age, it’s hard for professionals to connect with like-minded individuals outside of their office environment. It is especially difficult for women, who often have to work harder for their accomplishments to be acknowledged. LinkedIn can sometimes feel a little too formal, and networking events can sometimes be overwhelming — very few connections result in meaningful conversations. The genius of Bumble Bizz is that all you need is a phone. You can work around your schedule, make the first move, and honestly connect with someone else in your industry.

The app is available in Canada now for Apple users and will be available on Android on Oct. 18.

Would you try Bumble Bizz? Let us know in the comments below!

A touch of pink: women-only co-working spaces expanding in Toronto

If you are looking for a chic and modern co-working space, you are in luck. Toronto has added another women’s-only co-working space in the heart of the city. This multi-use space offers female entrepreneurs a place to connect, network, communicate, and help each other build up their brand. This concept is used in other cities like New York, where the offices almost become a retreat for women with the addition of several amenities. The space is supposed to represent the total opposite of a ‘frat-boy’ dominated office space with a fridge full of beer and beer pong.

The hope is that a feminine environment will help women feel comfortable, motivated, and productive. This idea has developed over the last two years, starting with little pop-up spaces at conferences and conventions that were inviting women. Shelley Zells is the founder of The Girls Lounge, a global pop-up space that offers a professional working environment with a chic ambience. The lounges have several pop-up locations in different countries each month.

The Wing in New York City is another popular co-working space that is exclusive to women. A recent study from Indiana University shows that women feel less pressured in a women’s-only environment. The study also concluded that women suffer from higher levels of cortisol in male dominated workspaces and are more likely to socially isolate themselves. The Wing does require membership, which starts at $215/ month. The membership for these places vary and can cost between $100-$700 monthly, although some places offer hourly or day passes.

The Wing New York

These spaces have become a warm and welcoming space for like-minded women to interact and work on their skills while networking. Places like The Wing are popular because of its design layout, which is very chic and clean, with just the perfect touch of millennial pink. There is a special lactation room for mothers and a beauty bar that offers makeup or fresh blowouts.

“The Parlor” The Wing NYC

Some co-working spaces are described as “boutique spaces” and offer various amenities ranging from beauty to wellness. Toronto joins the list of other big US cities/states that have female friendly co-working boutique spaces, including New York, St Louis, Phoenix, Southern California, and Washington D.C.

The most recent Toronto space opened on Sept 18 and is called Make Lemonade on Adelaide St. West. Make Lemonade is all about offering a beautiful office space to help women feel more productive than they would if they were just living out of a coffee shop. The belief behind Make Lemonade is that you can make any situation sweet no matter how sour. The concept of women-only also comes from the saying “empowered women empower women.” by artist and educator, Jenna Kutcher. The aim is to encourage women to get the job done, but to also be empowered along the way with cute and artsy motivational messages that are playful and simply pretty.

Make Lemonade- Toronto

The aesthetic of Make Lemonade is pleasing with tones of pink and yellow, and they offer $25 drop-in passes or full membership rates where you can even get your own office for $500/month, which includes 24/7 access with your own personal key. Women-only co-working spaces are slowly growing in Toronto and Make Lemonade joins other places like Shecosystem on Bloor Street West that offers wellness packages in addition to co-working.

 

What are your thoughts on women-only co-working spaces?

 

Transit Alliance: financing infrastructure via P3 and AFP

Ontario has an infrastructure deficit — there is a lot of infrastructure that still needs to be developed, but very little money is available. This creates a bit of a challenge. “If we were to build all infrastructure on public balance sheets, we wouldn’t be able to get there,” said Bruce McCuaig, Executive Advisor of Privy Council Office. “Money isn’t free.”

McCuaig was a special guest at the Transit Alliance’s seminar on alternative financing and public-private partnerships. Over 80 people attended the June 20 event in hopes of learning more about the Infrastructure Bank and alternative financing models that can help push municipal projects forward.

The morning seminar began with a fireside chat between McCuaig, KPMG partner Will Lipson, and Transit Alliance Chair Brian Crombie. The conversation centered around the Infrastructure Bank, a crown corporation that will provide low-cost financing for new infrastructure projects. McCuaig is set to help launch the Infrastructure Bank through the Privy Council.

“It’s about finding the best financial model for the project,” McCuaig said. “Each on has different needs.”

Transit will play a big part of the portfolio, although clean water was also mentioned numerous times throughout the discussion. McCuaig stressed that a balance will be needed between public interest and independence within the crown corporation, and that decisions should be made using evidence-based analysis.

The Infrastructure Bank will be complimentary to Infrastructure Ontario, Infrastructure Canada, and other private agencies. KPMG said the corporation will bring about numerous opportunities for municipalities, providing more financing options than before.

“The government has been quite wise in implementing the bank,” Lipson said.

After the fireside chat, Crombie moderated a second panel that dealt largely with financing for smaller municipal projects. Special guests on the panel included Rob Pattison, SVP, LRT, Infrastructure Ontario; Don Dinnin, VP Procurement Services at Metrolinx; Olivia MacAngus, VP Corporate Development at Plenary Group; and Omer Malik, Vice President Project Financing at Stonebridge Financial Corporation.

Each member of the panel is involved in public-private partnerships or alternative financing, and believes that innovation and creativity are key when it comes to municipal projects. For most, the Infrastructure Bank is a unique opportunity, but not something to depend on. MacAngus and Malik both think there is too much unknown about the Infrastructure Bank. “We don’t need another traditional lender,” Malik said. “It should focus on a gap, where larger equity funds aren’t interested.”

Dinnin suggested the use of an agency such as the Infrastructure Bank to help spearhead the relief line in Toronto. Metrolinx, he said, has a number of funded projects using public-private partnerships, but maybe the Infrastructure Bank can fill the rest of that gap. “There is always more than one way to do something,” he said.

The collective solution to municipal infrastructure, as suggested by the panel, is hybrid-financing models and innovative thinking — partnering with the right investors to see your project completed.

The goal of alternative financing and public-private partnerships is to build and develop a project on time and on budget. According to Pattison of Infrastructure Ontario, the worst thing someone can do is drag out the construction phase.

The seminar also included a networking opportunity, where business and municipal leaders were able to approach these financial firms to discuss their personal projects and seek advice (or offer potential solutions).

“Expertise should always be evolving,” Pattison said.

Here are some photos from the event:

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”7″ gal_title=”P3 Seminar June 20″]

More photos to come.

Photographs taken by Ethan Helfrich.

How to expand your email campaigns and event planning

Never underestimate the power of communication.

At an intimate learning workshop series at the Centre for Social Innovation, communications professionals from various non-profits, including Sierra Club of Canada, Community Environmental Alliance and Scouts Canada, gathered to learn from the best. The workshop, “Supercharging Your Purpose”, offered important tips on how to gain support and donations to succeed in the world of non-profits. The workshop was run by Second Revolution Communications, a communications company that leads workshops in conjunction with the Sustainability Network, a non-profit that provides learning networks to non-profits across Canada. The workshops run about three times per year.

Over the course of two days, non-profits were invited to learn about strategic planning, designing a better brand, event planning, and email campaigns from speakers Brad Pearson, Creative Director of Second Revolution Communications, and Keith Treffry, Director of Strategy at Second Revolution Communications. Both speakers come from an extensive background in the environmental non-profit sector. Previously Treffry was the Director of Communications for Earth Day Canada, a non-profit that has been around for over 25 years. Pearson is a graphic designer by trade, and previously worked for Greenpeace.

Women’s Post had the opportunity to attend the event planning and email campaigns workshops and left with valuable takeaways on how to plan for success in the world of non-profit.

Event Planning

“The biggest challenge in event planning is creating a unique event that will resonate strongly with your supporters,” Treffry says. “There are so many variables in events, you could have the best event semantically, but screw up by charging too much for tickets. Create a unique niche and separate yourself from your competition.”

When planning an event, begin by creating a steering committee. Researching finances, potential partnerships for the event, timing, competition, and venues is critical to a successful event. It can be dangerous to jump the gun and start planning before all these details are considered. The second step is to define the budget and consider important things like food, speakers, A/V, marketing and insurance. Don’t forget to developing a theme and brand for the event that can be used on social media.

Only after all of those factors are taken into consideration can you choose the venue. Make sure to ask about indoor/outdoor, A/V capacity, food and beverage options (if you are using their catering), size, and location. From there, implement your communications plan, which includes event materials, an Eventbrite or other ticketing system, a website, and signage for the event. Be sure to focus on getting speakers, deciding on catering or food options, and venue décor.

On the day of event, be sure to have a run sheet that lays out A/V needs for speakers or panelists along with any required images needed throughout the event. Don’t forget to make sure your sponsors are front and centre. Pearson recommends to obtain presentations from speakers in advance, noting that it can be difficult, but will make the event much smoother.

Both speakers focus on different aspects of the most integral elements on the day of the event:

Treffry: “Execution of the event is essential. Make sure everyone knows their responsibilities and knows what to do and when. Make sure they stick to the script.“

Pearson: “I focus more on A/V aspects of the event. At larger events, I’ll be in the sound booth coordinating with the presentations. My background is in design, but I’ve enough multimedia experience to be reasonably efficient. You learn how to wear multiple hats.”

Finally, after the event is complete, don’t forget to debrief with the team. Engaging with the people who contributed to running the event will make future events even more successful. Communication is key!

Email Campaigns

Emailing campaigns continue to be an important part of communications and marketing for non-profits. Though various social media outlets can appear to be more effective, emails are still an essential form of engagement for online communication. Pearson says that people have three times as many emails as other social media accounts and 56 per cent of people check their email first when they wake up and last before they go to bed, more so than other social media networks.

When building a subscriber list for emails, provide a banner and button on the website that will engage people to click on it. Providing click-bait such as a fun phrase or compelling image will draw people to subscribe. When asking for information, keep it simple as well. Simply ask for an email and provide an option for people to give additional information such as gender or city to build a better idea of the demographics your website is reaching.

Be sure to test different times, various subject headers, and different images in email campaigns to gauge success with your audience. Try using videos as well. Using video or other multimedia storytelling will raise email engagement by about 35 per cent. Be sure to focus on who you are audience is. Pearson pointed out that 80 per cent of people who have stopped opening emails feel it has become irrelevant. Engaging an interested audience is imperative to the success of an email campaign.

There are key challenges that remain to email campaigning, but there are solutions. “It is a difficult process. You can’t buy lists anymore because you need explicit consent,” Pearson says. “It isn’t so much about the size of your list as compared to the quality of your engagement. Make sure not to miss an opportunity. Testing different variables is also important and improves engagement rates. It is about long-strategy vs. short-term panic.”

Communications is key to creating relationships with supporters when working in the non-profit sector. Using events to network and engage with people will help create lasting partnerships and loyalty. Likewise, email campaigning can foster an online relationship that could further the success of a given cause. Most importantly, focus on the purpose for your non-profit and you won’t lose your way.

How to survive the dreaded office holiday party

The invites are starting to come in, and there it is — the dreaded office party. That one time of year when you are forced to mingle with your coworkers and suck up to your boss. What could go wrong?

The answer: so many things! That’s why Women’s Post has put together a few rules to help you navigate this awkward and potentially hazardous social custom.

Rule #1: Go! For those of you who are introverts, don’t get along with your coworkers, or just dread going into the office on a regular basis, this is your time to shine. It may not be your idea of a fun time, but mingling with your coworkers and your boss is integral to your professional success. Think of it as the ultimate networking opportunity. Not only can you discuss your vision for the company, but you can also get to know your superiors as individuals — and this can lead to a closer relationship between you all.

If you don’t attend, you may be singled out later in the new year. There may be inside jokes floating around that you can’t comprehend! Don’t be the one people talk about at the water cooler.

Rule #2: Dress to impress. No, that does not mean wear your low-cut dress that just manages to cover your ass with your six-inch stilettos. My suggestion would be to go classy. If you want to wear something skin-tight to show off your amazing body, feel free — just make sure it is still work appropriate. It is an office party after all. Try a black cocktail dress with some sexy red lipstick. Professional, yet flirty and fun. Avoid white if you plan on drinking red wine!

If classy just isn’t your thing, go all-out cheesy with an ugly Christmas sweater paired with an bold lip colour (purple, blue, or gold). Note — this will give the impression that you want to be the life of the party. Only choose this option if you want to stand out!

Rule #3: Actually talk to people. Sure, attending is good and all, but if you don’t make yourself visible, there is no point. Make sure your boss notices you — and not in an “oops I tripped over a chair and knocked over the Christmas tree” kind of way. Go up to him/her and say hello. If you don’t know anything about their personal life, ask them what their plans are for the holiday.  Be genuinely interested in their life outside of work. Ask questions and actually listen to the answers so you can follow up at a later date. Don’t bring up reports or your last business meeting unless your coworker or boss does first. Try to keep the conversation casual and really get to know the people you work with.

If you get nervous talking to people you don’t really know, come up with a few conversation topics ahead of time that you can throw out in case of awkward silence. Holiday plans are a staple conversation starter, but you can also try complimenting a person’s outfit, talking about the music, or asking what they are drinking. Don’t be afraid to say “Oh, I see someone I haven’t spoken with for a while” if the conversation is really dull and you want to get the hell out of there.

Rule #4: Don’t get smashed. This may seem like a silly, obvious rule. Who would get drunk at an office holiday party?? The answer may surprise you. When surrounded by superiors, some people turn to a glass of wine, pint of beer or a cocktail to ease the nerves. But, know this, the more you drink, the less aware you are of your actions. It’s easy to use alcohol as a way to loosen up, but it’s just as easy to lose track of how much you are actually drinking. My suggestion would be to get to the point where conversation flows, but you can still walk in a straight line. Pro tip — order wine or beer instead of the mystery holiday cocktail the bar is serving. Who knows how much alcohol is actually in it!

Don’t be the person who kisses their boss in a fit of passion or starts to do the Macarena on the bar. There’s no coming back from that.

Rule #5: Time your entrance and exit depending on what you want out of the party. If you are dreading this office celebration, decide what you want out of the evening and plan accordingly. For some, this may involve taking advantage of the free drinks and appetizers, saying hi to the boss, and then quietly making your escape — just enough to show your face so people know you were there.

If you want to network in the hopes of getting more involved in your company, try to go mid-evening after your coworkers are a bit more loose and ensure you actually mingle. Hang out around the bar so you can catch people as they are waiting for their refreshments. If you just want to have fun, arrive late when the “networking” aspect is done and the only ones left are the partiers. Maybe suggest a nightcap with the few stragglers still going strong around midnight.

Remember that above all else, enjoy the party. This is your chance to get to know Sue from the cubicle next door; to meet your boss face-to-face in a casual environment; and to show your coworkers your personality. Enjoy the free food, the company, and don’t forget to have fun!

It is a party after all!

10 networking tips for introverts

There is a reason I am a writer. I tend to express myself best through the written word, where I can carefully craft my sentences and ensure I use the proper vocabulary.

In person, I’m a bit of a spaz. I tend to ramble and use a lot of “ums” and “ahhs” as I search for the word I’m looking for. The mere thought of edging myself into a group or conversation with people I don’t know sends slight chills down my spin. It’s  only after circling the room numerous times that I can build up the courage to walk up to someone and introduce myself.

Unfortunately for introverts like me, networking is truly the only way to get ahead in business. So, Women’s Post has compiled a few select tips that should help you at that next conference or public event.

 

Do a bit of research before hand

What kind of people will be at the event? Do a little bit of research on the potential players of the industry. This will allow you to find some common ground and potential conversation starters. For example, I heard you merged your business last year — how has the transition been? I find that this research also helps calm me down. The more I read, the more comfortable I feel about networking.

Start small

Set small and reasonable expectations for yourself. For example, get at least five business cards or speak with three executives. This way, the networking event doesn’t seem so daunting. You can also set a time limit for yourself — stay at the event for at least an hour before making an excuse to leave. The more events you attend, the bigger your expectations may be.

Arrive on time

People generally have this innate instinct to arrive fashionably late.  The argument derives from past experience — I arrived on time and no one else was there or the hosts were still setting up. Generally, networking events are well managed and are meant for punctual people. If you arrive late, the other participants may already be huddling in their groups, making it difficult to get in the conversation. If you are part of the select group that arrives on time, it will be easier to

Ask open-ended questions 

Conversation is the most important aspect of a networking event.  Make sure to push those nerves aside and actually listen to what people are talking about. Don’t simply ask what people do for a living. Ask lots of open-ended questions relating to their work, politics, or hot topics being discussed at that moment — anything that will incite further conversation. Always remember, especially upon an initial interaction, it’s best to focus on the person/people you are speaking with instead of becoming the center of attention.

Fake confidence

Not everyone can have the confidence of an extrovert, but you can fake it. Stand up straight, hold your head up high, and speak with authority. Be yourself — if you’ve got a bit of a stutter like I do, don’t worry about it. Just be kind, smile, and pretend as if it’s no big deal. Simply walk up to someone and ask if you can join them. If you need a line, try this: “I’m here by myself and your group looked like they were having the most fun. May I join you?” Be sure to tell them to continue their discussion and you will catch up.

It’s okay to use a little liquid courage, but remember this is a professional event. If you drink, don’t get drunk.

Practice your pitch

If someone asks you what you do or what organization you are with, you should be able to answer with ease and a commanding authority. Keep the answer short, between one and two minutes. Quickly outline who you work for and what your responsibilities include. Make it sound impressive and be sure to mention any special skills you may possess. Have a story in mind if someone asks you for an example of your work. You never know who you will meet, and if you happen to be speaking with a potential employer, it’s important to note how invaluable your skills are to your current or past company.

Know your business card etiquette

DO make sure to bring business cards. DO NOT throw them at everyone you meet. Networking opportunities shouldn’t be about gathering as many contacts as you can. Instead, make it about building relationships. Give out your cards only if you feel as if you truly connected with a person and you see a future relationship brewing. Feeling uneasy about whipping out those cards? Try saying this: “I would love to get in contact with you, do you have a card?” By asking them for the card first, it gives you the opportunity to hand one back in return. I find this a lot easier than asking if they want my contact information.

Connect with organizers

Networking events typically follow a theme and are industry specific. Making friends with the organizers of the event will give you a heads up as to when future meetings may take place. They may also be able to introduce you to key players or tell you who to look out for. This type of information can be invaluable.

Follow-up with connections

During the networking event, don’t try to sell anything. Your one job is to be presentable, approachable, and impressive. A few days later, take a look at the business cards you collected or look up the names of the people you met on social media. Send them an email reminding them of who you are and of how enjoyable their conversation was.

Keep the message short and offer to buy them coffee so you can continue the conversation. If you do want to sell something (a product, or yourself for a job), be up front about it.  Say you have a proposition for them, and would love to buy them lunch to discuss it. No one can refuse free food!

Just do it!

Go to networking events and put yourself out there. Sure, it will be incredibly nerve-wracking at first, but, and it may seem cliché, practice makes perfect.

 

Did we miss anything? Tell us your networking tips in the comments below!

Maybe she’s born with it: The art of networking

The social art of networking is an almost necessary skill for most successful business people, particularly those in entrepreneurial capacities.  The very nature of the role calls for the ability to get out there, create, and maintain business relationships, almost from scratch. Books and seminar tickets are sold worldwide – a multimillion-dollar industry – all focused on giving business people the tools and knowledge necessary to become effective networkers.

Earlier this week, a male colleague made the passing comment that women don’t realize the advantage they hold in the business world by being natural-born networkers. I took pause at that comment. I mean, the women in my life do seem to possess a lot of the traits necessary in succeeding at this task. They’re outgoing, pleasant, great listeners, diplomatic, generally non-threatening, and have often perfected juggling a myriad of personal and professional commitments at any given hour in the day. So why then, with networking being such an integral part of managing business relationships and women supposedly having such a natural disposition towards it, does it seem like there are so many challenges when women face a professional environment for networking? Are we just not putting these natural talents to use? Or does it require some tweaking on our part to translate these skills into an effective business model?

I took it upon myself to do a little surface research, speaking to some of the women in my life and asking them about their individual networking patterns and experiences. The results of my little mini-experiment were quite revealing. There was almost nothing significantly different in the way that these women introduced themselves, carried themselves, appropriated body language, or maintained contact after initial meetings. The logistics were all pretty standard and could have come right out of a ‘How to Network Effectively’ handbook. The only difference? The most successful (attributed to financial and career success) were able to identify these behavioural patterns as “networking,” while the others insisted that it wasn’t “networking” – it was just meeting new people.

Of course, my conversation with six or seven friends can hardly be considered conclusive evidence, but I think there’s some validity to these findings. While the skills could very well be inherent in women to be effective networkers, perhaps what’s actually needed is a consciousness of the value these skills bring within the corporate sphere. This recognition could very well enhance the most important part of any networking opportunity: translating that first introduction into a viable business transaction, whether through the trading of services or the exchange of money for products or services.

So are women natural-born networkers? I’d hesitate to paint an entire gender with so broad a brush. But for those of us who are blessed with the gift of gab and a knack for meeting new people, a full understanding of the value of that gift can enhance any opportunity to gain new and valued client relationships, and furthermore, can do no harm in working towards ultimate business success.