The Art of Networking – Review by Heather Freed

Spending a day with 3000 of your closest friends in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to attend The Art Of Networking, can be overwhelming, but the range of speakers was fascinating.  This article captures some of the highlights of the day.  Check out the Graphic Journalism snapshots for each of the speakers for the summaries of their talks.

Rita Bhasin – As a Sikh from Punjabi, Rita talked about Unlocking the Beauty of Belonging.  She said that Belonging only happens when you Embrace your Authenticity, especially your differences, both by your own self and by others.  She commented that each of us have three selves:

  • Authentic Self – your core values and beliefs
  • Adapted Self – safe place to be in public
  • Performing Self – what “the world” expects you to be

My take-away from her talk, is that you need to discover a Performing Self that you are happy with and that will get you where you want to be.

Check out her website – and the Graphic Journalism picture for more information.

Fotini Iconomopoulos gave some practical suggestions on how to Manage Negotiations.  She reminded us that the world is changing and we need to change to succeed. She talked about the importance of relationships and having something in common.  You said that you need to remember a few things:

  • Start your negotiations by thinking “What can they afford to do for me?”
  • During negotiations, remember to phrase your options from the perspective “If you, then I” – i.e. if you do this for me, then I will do that for you.
  • Negotiators who ask more questions are more successful

My Take-away from her talk was how to respond when someone says “thank-you” for doing something for them.  Like most of you, my automatic response is either “you’re welcome” or “no problem”.  I’ve started to rephrase my response as “I appreciate that” or “I’m sure that if our roles were reversed, you would have done the same”. It’s amazing how this changes your relationship.

Check out your negotiation style at –

Follow her on LinkedIn – and check out the Graphic Journalism picture for more information.

Dr Shimi Kang  – Prescription to Health Happiness & Joy – Resilience, Adaptability & Wellness. There are 3 Global Trends currently:

  • Stress & Burnout – to combat this, develop emotional skills (EQ) for Resilience & Wellness
  • Disconnection & Polarization – to combat this, develop social skills for Communication & Collaboration
  • Anxiety & Perfection – to combat this, develop Cognitive Skills (CQ) for Adaptability & Innovation

My Take-away from her talk was the importance of acknowledging gratitude and meditation and the importance of adding “play” to your daily life.

Check out her website –  and the Graphic Journalism picture for more information.

Executive Panel –  Three panelists – Rosalind Hunter (Osler), Eva Mazzaperro (GFL) & Salima Valji (Unleash Forward) discussed a number of topics – mostly directed to employees (versus entrepreneurs).  However, several of their points were applicable to all including:

  • Talent does not guarantee recognition.  Recognition is based on 10% performance, 30% image and 60% exposure
  • You need to self promote, so don’t be afraid to ask
  • Don’t turn down an opportunity just because it’s not the direct path to where you’re trying to get to
  • Currently, all companies have employee retention issues

Dr Hayley Wickenheiser spoke about Team, Effectiveness and Performance – Specifically that you don’t have to be the best in the world – you should aim to be the best FOR the world.   Check out her Gatorade commercial –

Some of the take-aways from her talk:

  • To lead a team, sometimes you need to lead from the front, other times from behind
  • You need to be able to adapt
  • You need to control what you can and to release the rest
  • You grow by taking chances

Check out the article about her in Toronto Life –

Lisa Laflamme is Just Getting Started and she talked about her history in the media and breaking into a male dominated role. She discussed Imposter Syndrome and how she could never assume that she was going to achieve great things, but that she constantly needed to prove herself.  As an FYI – she claims that she went grey – due to the hair dye supply issues during Covid.

My take-away from her – there’s always something else to do and you can’t dwell on the past.  You have to cope with sudden change and that the comeback is better than the setback. 

What has she done recently?  She came back recently from a trip to Kenya, Tunisia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to showcase reporters working on gender-based violence stories.  She is working on a mini-documentary for Journalists for Human Rights.  In other words – she’s working on projects that mean something to her.

Check out the article about her in Chatelaine –

In summary,  I’ve been to other “motivational” days before.  This one was different.  Six Speakers, each with a different Take Home Message.  Some meant more to me than others.  I took away three or four “To Do” actions and I started using them right away.

For those of you wanting more information about any of the speakers, feel free to reach out for coffee and I’d be glad to discuss this further.

Heather Freed

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