There’s no dancing around it: Vancouver has a reputation for being a city where it’s hard to make true friends. Along with it’s isolated reputation comes a notion that networking and business connections are next-to impossible to create in Vancouver.
As a recent newcomer to Vancouver (I’ve been here less than two years), I was seriously nervous moving here. I kept hearing stories of loneliness, and how it was hard to create genuine friendships. On top of that, when I moved to Vancouver, I started a business, which meant I wouldn’t even have a built-in group of friends or a network at the office.
Rather than stay in the safety of my pajamas, I decided that if I was going to live in Vancouver, I was going to find great friends and build a powerful network in Vancouver. I mean, there had to be someone that would want to be my friend, right?
I’m relieved to say I was right – and there are actually many incredible women (and men) that have become my friends and joined my network since moving to Vancouver.
Are you looking to expand your network?
Are you looking to meet other driven, inspiring individuals?
Are you looking to learn something new, meet new friends, or just have a great night?
If this is you, keep reading. I’ve done the research (and attended) for you and compiled a list of my favourite networking organizations and places to connect with like-minded individuals in Vancouver. All YOU have to do is get out of your payjamas and jump into your most stylish Lululemon pants. It is Vancouver, afterall!
Here are my suggestions for best organizations and places to connect with other driven, conscious #girlbosses in Vancouver:
DNA is a tight-knit mix of women from different backgrounds. This is a group that focuses on relationships and social connections over traditional business card swapping. They’re all about doing fun things, and meeting friends. We often do happy hours, wine-tastings, lunches, or even fun events like curling or going to the horse-races. I have a membership and it’s so worthwhile to get access to all their fantastic events!
VCBB is a Meetup group with an awesome and diverse membership of over 2,000 and counting. VCBB events are always really interesting and relevant to business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals alike. I’ve attended movie screenings, learned how to gain media exposure and even learned about how to get a book published. In full disclosure, I hosted an event sharing how to create New Year’s Resolutions that you’ll actually achieve, so I may be biased. But seriously, they’re fantastic events. Sign up on Meetup for notifications to future events.
YWIB was started at UBC’s Sauder School of Business in 2008, and as such, features a focus on young professionals. Their Vancouver Chapter is fantastic for young professionals and I’ve benefited from taking part in their incredible BluePrint Mentorship program (both as a mentee and a mentor). I also attended their Beyond Conference and was blown away by the caliber of speakers and inspiration packed into just one day. YWIB has chapters across Canada and offers really valuable content, lots of energy and support for women in business. If you love being surrounded by young, driven, ambitious, and smart women, YWIB is for you!
More a movement than just networking events, ProjectYou creates a meaningful space for women to achieve self-confidence, face their fears, and show up authentically in all aspects of life. At ProjectYou events, you’ll find yourself learning, sharing, growing and maybe even dancing in an impromptu dance party! These events are as good for the soul as they are for hearts, minds and business. If you want to connect to other amazing women in Vancouver, you’ll love ProjectYou! Visit www.iamprojectyou.com
I can’t say enough good things about Brainstation. Their events and workshops are always interesting. While there is a definite tech-focus, I always learn a lot and meet people who are doing really cool things in the city. I walk away with new ways of thinking, interesting new connections, and inspired to keep working with tech (instead of against it).
I consider myself a pretty good speaker (I am a paid speaker, after all!). But I joined Toastmasters just to check out what it was all about and I was blown away by how practical and helpful the whole program is! Toastmasters is truly for anyone looking to improve their speaking skills while building their network. Toastmasters can help total newbies to semi-professionals, to leaders and executives anywhere. Check here to find a club near you – or start one!
Do you get nervous before big events? Do you get anxious in large crowds and you just don’t know what to say?
That’s ok! Networking doesn’t always come in the form of traditional events or formal programs. Co-working can be one of the best ways to build your network and circle of friends. There’s a host of amazing co-working spaces in the city (like L’Atelier and Hive Vancouver to name a few). But if you’re looking for a more casual way to co-work and meet cool people, check out these two local options:
Freelance Friday is hosted the 2nd Friday of every month by Talent Collective, and they rotate locations around the city. I love absolutely these events! Join in for 45 minutes of sprint-style work, and then 15 minutes of meeting people, exchanging ideas and collaboration. Then, we do it again! You can check out upcoming Freelance Friday dates and locations by going to this link.
No need to sign up. Drop in anytime on Wednesdays between 10 – 5. This is by far, the most casual, laid-back atmosphere you’ll find. It’s really like being in a coffee shop, except its a juice bar. And everyone around you is also grinding out work. Don’t be shy and say hello to someone new – they won’t bite, I promise. Check the website for info but be warned: there’s not much. I told you it’s casual!
Ok: it’s time for a serious #girlboss tip. Although having a local network in Vancouver is critical, as the world is getting smaller and more connected (hello, social media!), it’s important to look beyond local as you grow your network.
My tip? Always build your network, even when you’re traveling. I always look for networking opportunities in cities I’m visiting. A quick MeetUp search for things like “Female Entrepreneurs”, “Young Professionals”, or “Women in Leadership” will help you find events where you can learn, connect with new people, and – if you have a business – write off that night’s activities!
You now have enough networking groups to keep you busy almost every day of the month. And don’t forget – Vancouver is an ever-changing, evolving city, with new things always popping up. Make sure you join Facebook groups for local go-getters, and keep checking Meetup because new organizations and groups are starting every day!
Now, get out there and build your network. Let’s shed that “cold and lonely” reputation and show ‘em how fun, connected and friendly Vancouver-ites REALLY are!
Based out of Vancouver, BC, Lisa Michaud, Success Coach, is a self-proclaimed goal-oriented, happiness-obsessed adventurist!
“I’m a special blend between the soft skills and hard skills. I’m that warm hug and support you need, and the crazy-haired genius you want helping you create your success. I’ve got the kind of business background and life experience that demonstrates that I’m both street smart and business savvy! And I also am a hopeless romantic who loves yoga, meditation, and believes in happiness as the ultimate pursuit.”
In the last 10 years of working in a variety of businesses, Lisa has gained knowledge through both experience and formal education. Her wheelhouse includes Human Resources, Leadership, Development, Accounting, Finance, Adult Learning, and Continuous Improvement. It’s Lisa’s goal to provide this information to to her wonderful success coaching clients in order to improve their quality of life. “I’m so passionate and excited about it!”
Learn more about working with Lisa at www.lisamichaud.com