Last night’s sold-out Redblacks Summer Rush was like a series of quick little team huddles for those who understand the importance of networking.
That’s because the 330 fresh-faced folks who came out to the Infinity Convention Centre were all working toward the same goal of building new professional relationships and contacts.
The evening also raised more than $30,000 for the OSEG (Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group) Foundation’s efforts to ensure all kids have the opportunity to return to the classroom this fall with proper back-to-school supplies.
The 24th edition of the World Partnership Golf returned to Camelot Golf & Country Club on Sept. 11 with a sold-out event and a record-setting fundraising total.
Burovision is tripling the size of its downtown office, taking over the entire second floor of 300 Sparks St. as an ode to ‘people-first’ offices.
The inaugural event, billed as the largest networking gathering in Ottawa, was co-chaired by next-generation leaders Keaton Ambrose, director of business development at Chandos Construction, mechatronics engineering student Kishan Bhargava, Welch LLP and Welch Capital Partners business development manager Josh Raganold, and Victoria Ungeitis, assistant branch manager for TD Private Wealth Management in Ottawa. They were supported by a committee of like-minded volunteers.
Serving as event adviser was Dr. Nalin Bhargava, an Ottawa dentist with a flare for fundraising events. He’s also keen to encourage a younger generation of professionals and businesspeople to get involved in their community, as a way of making a positive impact and of building lifelong friendships and connections. Bhargava is one of the team dentists for the Ottawa Redblacks.
His son Kishan was so inspired by his dad’s community work that he voluntarily took on a leadership role in Summer Rush. In doing so, Kishan “absolutely made me proud,” Bhargava later told OBJ.social. “As did the other 30 people on the committee. It’s amazing that these kids produced, with little experience, what could be one of the hottest events of the summer.”
Organizers fielded calls all day from members of the public looking for tickets, even though the event sold out weeks ago. From OSEG was vice-president Janice Barresi, who’s executive director of the OSEG Foundation, as well. Also there from OSEG was manager Lauren Epp, who helped out with the event. With only days left before her due date, she was making the final stages of pregnancy look so easy.
Summer Rush was emceed by one of Ottawa’s best-known lawyers, Lawrence Greenspon. He’s also no stranger to working a room. He provided guidance on how the future movers and shakers of the world should approach each networking session.
“The first question you have to ask yourself is, ‘Why am I doing this? Why am I hear tonight?’,” Greenspon told his audience. “The second question is, ‘How can the people that I talk to tonight help me? How can they work with me, how can they help me move in the direction I want to move in my career … and how can I help them move forward?’ That’s what networking is all about.”
The event was designed to make sure attendees met new people, and didn’t just gravitate toward the same familiar faces. Upon arrival, each attendee received a networking bracelet. It had coloured numbers that directed them to a specific cruiser table, where they could meet up with a bunch of other networkers for an allotted period of time. Then they’d move on to a new table.
It’s a system organizers will have to fine-tune for next year to ensure networkers aren’t crossing paths with the same folks.
Networkers featured members of the Ottawa Redblacks team, as well as members of the RedBlacks Cheer and Dance Team. Special guests also included Mayor Mark Sutcliffe, who dropped in to offer his congratulations to organizers. The evening included a singing performance from Ottawa-based R&B/soul artist Tianna Lee.
There were many sponsor representatives, some of whom have years of experience in their respective industry and could offer advice or a different perspective to those who were just starting out in their careers.
“It’s been a nice mix,” said real estate investor Malika Mody, 25. “I’ve been meeting people at the end of their profession, starting their profession and everything in between.”
Raven Connected CEO Dan Carruthers, who’s very active within the startup community, was among the sponsors engaging with the younger attendees that night. Also in the crowd were many past recipients of a Forty Under 40, which are annual awards given out to some of Ottawa’s rising young business leaders.
Ottawa-based publicist Ginger Bertrand, president of Gab Group, was one of the young business professionals to jump at the chance to get involved in the event when she found out about it.
“I love that Summer Rush was spearheaded by Ottawa’s next generation of philanthropists,” said the volunteer committee member. “Ottawa is filled with a talented young community, and I’m so excited to be part of it. I really feel like our future is bright.”
Bertrand was also able to use her connections to recruit her professional auctioneer dad, Michel “HOSS” Bertrand, to help out that night.
The business matchmaking concept was a hit with Craig Ogden, vice-president in the National Capital Region of Quasar, an engineering consultancy.
“I was really excited for the ‘speed-dating’ component of it as an opportunity to meet lots of new people,” said Ogden, who, as a longtime resident of Ottawa, feels like he already knows much of the business community.
“At networking events, I tend to gravitate toward people that I know. You get into a conversation and you’re talking about a project or whatever, and then half an hour goes by. So, I was looking forward to being forced to meet new people.”
Ogden believes placing people together can make it easier to socialize, which is a practice that can be daunting for some – even for those who appear to be outgoing. “Liquid courage always helps,” he jokingly added.
The evening left Dan Julien, chief revenue officer at I4C Consulting, wishing this kind of event had been around when he was first breaking into the world of sales.
“When you walk into a room, it can be quite intimidating,” he recalled of his early days in business. “In this case, you have no choice but to introduce yourself. You get to meet a new group of people every few minutes. It takes away a lot of the anxiety.”
There are relatively few business leaders in Ottawa who make the networking rounds with as much frequency as James Baker, CEO and co-founder of Keynote Search. You’d think something like Summer Rush would be old hat for him, but it wasn’t.
“I have had conversations with people that I would not normally have had conversations with because of this event,” he said, sounding impressed.