Darcy Rezac, Managing Director of the Vancouver Board of Trade

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I`m meeting this morning with Darcy Rezac, Managing Director of the Vancouver Board of Trade.

Now I know, Darcy, you have a particular interest, amongst your other duties, in networking and if I`m not mistaken you give a course on networking here at the Board of Trade?

I give a seminar to our new members when they join.

And is this something that all the new members typically take part in?Yes.

What are some of the things that you are able to point out to them that helps them in their networking? Well, networking is not something that comes naturally to people; it’s like riding a bike, you’ve got to get over the fear and just get on with it and practice those habits.You‘ll find that some people, diplomats, for example, will learn the skills over a long period of time, some better than others. People in the public affairs community must have unusually good skills. People in the media have to have good networking skills. Networking is nothing more than communicating with people in a way to make an impression, preferably a positive impression.

And I presume, you feel this is a very important business skill and I guess the members of the Board of Trade feel the same way.How it does it help people in their business?Well, most people are involved in enterprises that require contacts with other people or usually selling a product or service to other people and to do so means they have to make contacts.But even networking within an organization is terribly important if people are to succeed and go up the ladder of success .

I guess too, particularly for people who might be newcomers to a society, whether immigrants or people who moved in from elsewhere in Canada, its even more important to network.Very much so, otherwise they‘ll be pigeon-holed in various tasks and jobs that won`t allow them to achieve their full potential.

Are there certain, sort of, attitudes, certain mind-sets that are important in networking? Absolutely. Firstly, they have to be available. People have to go to things, and go to a lot of things. The other mindset is that their expectations must be realistic. When they go to an event or function, or someplace where they can network, they ought not to expect that thats where theyre going to make the sale if they’re in sales, but theyre going to make a contact.

Or for that matter where theyre going to find a job, if they‘re looking for a job. In other words, it’s a long road. What you’re really looking for is market intelligence; market information to allow you to achieve your goals. Be it finding a job, or finding an order, or relocating, whatever it might be. You are looking for information. And usually, it`s a long thread. One contact leads to another, which leads to another.

What are the opportunities that are available in a city like Vancouver? Obviously the Board of Trade is the premium location for networking. What are some other opportunities for networking? Church – go to church. Get involved in volunteer activities. Register with Volunteer Vancouver as a member. Take a look at all the organizations, events and societies in town that require volunteers. Volunteer Vancouver is http://www.volunteervancouver.ca. Everything from the DragonBoat Festival to the Molson Indy to the Air Canada Open all require volunteers. Invest the time and money, if you`ve got to buy a sweatshirt or jacket or whatever, do whatever you have to do, get out and volunteer, be it for the symphony or whatever it might be to make contacts.

Now, Volunteer Vancouver would steer you to all of these opportunities? Is that like a one-stop shopping location? They maintain an inventory of events and activities in town and they refer volunteers to those activities. They do all the volunteer staffing, for example, for the DragonBoat Festival and the Molson Indy has I think over 1,000 volunteers.

And uh, what about some of these breakfast clubs, luncheon clubs, dinner clubs? Are those good places to network? Excellent. Vancouver AM is a good one. Industry associations, if someones in the high-tech sector, for example, the British Columbia Technology Industry Association has events.Go to those.If you‘re in the tourism business, Tourism Vancouver has events.

Are these typically open to people who are not yet in the business who would like to meet people to get into the business? Sure. Some of them are. Certainly Vancouver A.M.has a sales and marketing focus. It`s kind of a breakfast club. So, I mean, there are all sorts of things that you can do.

And I guess some people go there in order to sell whatever services they have. Other people go there to meet people. Thats right, certainly new immigrants are not only in downtown Vancouver.But Id recommend the first thing they do is go and join their local Chamber of Commerce. Pay the dues, start going to meetings, offer to volunteer for various events and activities. That could be anything from taking tickets at the door at an event through to participating in some policy work or some other activities as time goes on.

The Chambers of Commerce, the local ones, are quite open to anyone really?Yes, anyone can join with an interest in business.

Now, how important is it to have an impressive name card? Obviously, someone who has immigrated here, even though he might be a professional immigrant but is working in a laundry, he doesn’t have a name card.Does that inhibit him in any way? Well, you have to have a business card.The business card should be easy to read, it should have your first name clearly depicted on it. Not just an initial, but the name you want to be called by.If its a Korean or Asian name where its juxtaposed, I would recommend that you put it in the order in Canada that you want it pronounced or underline the name that you want to be called by.You want e-mail address, telephone number and who you are. If you have a profession, if youre an accountant then you put that on it.

Even though, you might be working in a laundry at this time? Just put your profession on it? Just your name and your profession? Absolutely. People should be able to, from a name card, get some idea of what it is you`re doing or what you want to do.

Now what are the special functions around networking that take place here at the Board of Trade? Well, the Board of Trade puts on about 120 major events a year, and about another 100 smaller events. We have a members reception once a month where people come and its a complimentary reception where they meet 100 other people and hand out their business cards and chat. We start off with a networking overview of the seminar so that people aren’t shy when you hand out a card and hand it to people – its what they expect. At all our luncheons and events we have major speakers everywhere from Corazon Aquino to Lee Quan Yu, Prince Philip has spoken here, to business CEOs, bank presidents and so on. We’ve had Gerry Adams speak here and we had Lauren Lombard speak last week. We’ve had some controversial figures speak here.Even Jane Goodall has spoken here.So we have a wide spectrum of speakers.Some of those events are larger than others, but at all of our events we ask people to exchange business cards and get to know the people at their table.So people always come away with 8 or 10 business cards from a Board of Trade event, if they don‘t they`re not networking properly.

Now, I think you have also some specialized networking sessions? We have networking round tables once a month where we ask people, in half-hour periods, to meet people at their table, hand out business cards and say what it is they do and they`re interested in. And then we switch to another table and then another so they get to meet 3 groups of people.

And presumably your membership consists of people from all kinds of different origins, recent immigrants, long-established Vancouverites?Our membership is the broad cross-section of businesses in Vancouver and for people who work for businesses.We have individual memberships of course as well.People who aren`t directly engaged in business, but who want to be involved with the business community join – but the large companies are members, but most of our members, 80 percent of our members, are small businesses or individuals.

And how much of an obstacle can language be if people aren’t completely fluent in English? What degree of fluency do you need to be an effective networker? You‘ve got to be able to carry on a normal dinner-type conversation. Language is very important. I wouldn’t worry about accents. Accents are very common here.I wouldnt worry too much about being perfectly grammatical but it can be painful when people, theyve got to want to be able to exchange information and want to engage the listener in a meaningful way. But I would think that the immigrant will know when they have achieved that level just by the body language theyre getting back from the people they talk to. And a good place to test that is at our members` reception and to practice that as well.

Now, once again, the membersreception that occurs just once a month, but its for any member, not just the new members. Anyone who wants to show up shows up. I should go to that, Im a member now. I should come. Any other advice that you might leave with people? If you take the situation of an immigrant who has been here for 1, 2, 3 years: very often they dont know many people, sometimes they feel less than confident with their English.Even though they may have a professional background, they might be working in jobs that are not so satisfactory, which can be a little bit soul-destroying or undermining their confidence. How could they use the Board of Trade or networking, in general, to integrate themselves better into this society? Come out to a lot of events. Go to a lot of events in the community. Get involved as a volunteer, look for opportunities where they can add value to the organization. If they decide to join up with Vancouver AM then volunteer to take tickets in the morning. You don`t need a lot of language skills to do that, but become known. And then people talk to you and you can respond. But be visible and do a lot of it. A good firm handshake, looking people in the eye when they speak is very, very important. Showing an interest in the listener. There are other things they can do to get skills. Certainly, Dale Carnegie is a course that I highly recommend that people go to and that would bolster their confidence.

Even the audio version of it or do you think they should go to the course itself?Well, either one.But certainly everybody that I`ve put through Dale Carnegie has come back a changed person.But get out there and do things as often as you can, meet as many people as you can and speak to people, hand out your business card – tell them what you do.

Well, I think we`ve covered the subject and I appreciate you taking the time. Thank you very much. O.K.

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