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On Thursday, June 2nd, over 60 former interns of Career Edge Organization’s three paid internship programs  gathered at an event hosted by us in downtown Toronto called “Grow Your Network, Grow Your Career!” The event, exclusively for our former interns (or Alumni) aimed to offer some information and networking tips as well as some online social tools and the opportunity to put what they’ve learned to practice during a reception as well as a structured group activity.

We were very fortunate to be joined by Paul Yeung, who volunteered to be our guest speaker. Paul not only delivered a funny (and, at times, brutally honest) and informative presentation, but he also facilitated a group networking activity. He was kind enough to let us share some of his networking tips with our audience. Here are our favourites:

1. Humour & Socializing

Look for common ground. This could be something that is central to Canadian culture (Paul suggests following hockey for water cooler conversation) or something broader and more universal, like parenting, marriage, etc.

We think this is great advice. Personally, I love to hear about different cultures. One thing most people have in common is a curiosity about the world and a desire to travel.

2. Do not cross the line between networking & friendship

Paul told Alumni that he is generous with his time and always willing to talk to others and give advice, but warns that his Facebook and LinkedIn networks are personal and for well-established networks only.

Paul is spot on.  Whether you are asking for or offering your time, it’s very important for all involved to establish well defined boundaries early on.

3. It is about what you have to offer, NOT just asking for things… remember to PASS IT FORWARD.

While it’s important to be aware of what your needs and gaps are, also think about what you might have to offer others. Go into networking events prepared to ask questions and listen. Offer solutions and, when appropriate, your insight or even your time. What goes around comes around!

4. Work on your 30 minute commercial

Paul recommends everyone have an “elevator pitch” about themselves, just as business do. This will help you to always be prepared to talk about yourself in a short, concise way while confidently highlighting key points. But also remember to listen carefully, and adjust your message to your audience.

5. Take the initiative and follow-up

Whether it is with a thank-you card or simply a note to say hello, following up is an important step in building meaningful relationships.

To this I would also add a word of warning: It could be very off-putting if your first post-networking contact with someone is a big ask. This is something that you should work up to slowly, once you have built trust and credibility. In your note, simply let that person know that you enjoyed meeting them and hope to stay in touch. Offer them something, such as information or an introduction to another contact. When the timing is right, offer to meet and chat over coffee – your treat.

About Paul Yeung

Paul is a fiercely proud Canadian who believes strongly that both the public and private sectors have important roles to play in the development of public policy initiatives critical to determining the future path of our country. Since 2007, Paul has held the position of senior manager, regulatory and government affairs, with the Royal Bank of Canada. Prior to joining the bank, he was a senior policy advisor to the Minister of Finance, ON.

Paul has gained a greater understanding of Canada by studying abroad and by gaining international experience that has included internships in Northern Ireland, Belgium and China. He was a consultant with the External Affairs department of the World Bank for more than two years. Paul is passionate and dedicated to making a difference in his community. He enjoys lecturing at York University’s Emerging Global Leaders Program, was appointed by the Government of Ontario to the Trillium Foundation’s Grant Review Team, and plays hockey year round. Paul completed his undergraduate studies in history at Wilfrid Laurier University (1996), and an M.A. in International Relations and Economics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (2002) in Bologna, Italy and Washington, D.C. Paul is married with two young daughters.