Let’s face facts. The term “networking” has developed a bit of negative stigma in recent years. The word has become somewhat synonymous with inauthentic connections and meetings you take out of sheer career obligation and ambition rather than a desire for genuine connection. Thankfully there has been a bit of a revival to reclaim the term and reinvent the entire idea of what networking should be. Locally and in other major centres, there has been a push to create events that professionals want to attend, and sessions that provide real value for everyone involved. It’s networking, renewed and reinvented.

In Ottawa, a city that is growing and changing at breakneck speed, the idea of networking events that are worth going to has caught on quickly. Not only are tech sector start-ups trying to bring people together to build camaraderie and opportunity, but even Government departments are also putting on networking sessions that are inspiring a renewed interest in the very act of meeting new people in a professional capacity. Organizations in Ottawa have realized that it’s almost better not to host a networking function than to put on one that’s a waste of people’s time.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to be selective about the events you attend. With so many great networking opportunities, you have to be particular about the ones you select.

Before deciding to attend a networking event, use this handy checklist to see that you at least tick off two of the boxes below:

  • This event is going to help advance my career
  • I’m going to learn something that will help me in my position
  • This event attracts professionals I want to meet
  • The food is going to be incredible or at least not terrible

With that in mind, here is our list of some of the great Networking opportunities coming up in Ottawa over the next number of months.

Networking in Nature

Fri, 7 Jun 2019, 12:30 PM – Sat, 8 Jun 2019, 11:30 AM

Elements luxury tented camp

793 Storyland Road, Renfrew, ON K7V 3Z8

An incredible opportunity to take advantage of the unbelievable natural environment just a short drive from downtown Ottawa, not to mention, develop new skills, and connect with other professionals. Hosted by serial entrepreneur and adventurer Dave Urichuck, this engaging, outdoor retreat incorporates plenty of networking opportunities, interactive workshops, and professional coaching to help you better understand your next steps as you develop your career. While, definitely not your typical networking event, this is an experience you won’t soon forget. Included in the cost are luxury tents, sleeping gear, meals, activities, guest speakers, yoga, guided nature walk, and much more.

Market Research Methods and Resources

Among many Invest Ottawa events

Invest Ottawa

Jun 20 @ 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm

7 Bayview Road, Ottawa, ON K1Y 2C5

One of the great things about being located in an entrepreneurial city like Ottawa is the continued access to educational resources. Invest Ottawa puts on several great seminar sessions, that not only serve as exceptional learning opportunities, they also provide entrepreneurs with the chance to connect with other like-minded people. This free session, with guest speaker Marlene Zakaib, Business Librarian with the Ottawa Public Library will help you better understand market research and ensure a higher probability of success as you take your great idea or start-up venture to market. Be sure to keep an eye on their events calendar for any other sessions that may be of interest.

Business Relationships – One Table at a Time

Mon, 22 July 2019

7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT

The Lieutenant’s Pump, 361 Elgin St

It’s completely understandable if just the comparison to speed dating is enough to put you off. However, aside from having a moderator to move the interactions forward, there are no other cringeworthy speed dating tactics. There are no whistles, bells, or other devices to prod you along. Nor are there any tacky gimmicks to force a connection, just professional conversation in a comfortable setting. After being seated, you get to move from business professional to business professional about every six minutes. During your conversations, you mark down those you would like to connect with again, and SpeedOttawa Networking connects you later via email. Of course, you can also exchange business cards along the way if you don’t want to wait. It’s a great way to get to connect with other professionals without all the awkward icebreakers.

GR Business Networking Ottawa

Series of locations and times around Ottawa throughout the year

GR Business Networking is a national networking platform, with a local focus. In a way, it’s like a Rotary Club whose sole objective is helping to connect you with a broader network as you build your career. For many hard-working professionals, the thought of adding additional hours to their day attending networking sessions is very unappealing. With GR Business Networking events, they curate connections to assist you in building influential, local, and relevant relationships. Your first time attending is always free, but the real benefits of curated networking begin when you become a member.

Women’s Network of Ottawa

The Women’s Network of Ottawa (WNO) has more than 400 members and regularly comes together to connect professional women from across the region. With membership ranging from young professionals through to C-suite executives, there is always tremendous opportunity to connect and learn. Sessions usually focus on particular issues, with sought after guest speakers and invariably provide plenty of time for questions and networking. The events typically happen monthly, but they often add additional dates. Be sure to watch the MeetUp page for details.

Summer 2019 Pop-Up Event: Babies, Business + Breakfast

Wed, July 31, 2019

10:00 AM to 12:30 PM

Your career doesn’t stop just because you decide to have a family. It does mean, though that you need to find ways to accommodate childcare and great networking opportunities. With Babies, Business, and Breakfast, you have both. Suitable for either Moms or Dads, but geared towards parents looking to build a startup, kickstart a small business, or begin freelancing with a little one in tow. This breakfast gathering of busy parent/professionals is the perfect spot to get some much-needed business inspiration and pick up some tips and tricks for balancing it all.

Join a Charitable Board

Volunteer Ottawa Not-For-Profit Governance Seminar

Next Seminar: Wednesday, October 16, 2019. 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM

One of the most rewarding networking opportunities available is to volunteer on a charitable board. Not only are you able to use your professional experience in a meaningful way in your community, but you also have the opportunity to connect with a wide range of other committed professionals. For young people looking to add impressive experience to their CV, the leadership opportunities often afforded to Board Members are hard to match. Signing up for one of Volunteer Ottawa’s Governance seminars is a great place to get started, not to mention a pretty good networking opportunity in its own right.

Saas North

November 26 – 27, 2019 at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa

If you work in the Software as a Service sector, you no doubt already know about Saas North. In 2018, they had close to 2000 attendees representing more than 600 companies and are now considered one of the top three SaaS conferences globally. With the continued expansion of Ottawa’s tech sector, this is probably the most prominent networking opportunity in this city, but also worth attending for anyone in Ontario and beyond. Not only do you get access to some incredible learning opportunities, with the conference’s building cache, you’re sure to rub shoulders with founders, senior executives and even venture capitalists looking for the next notable innovation. Definitely worth the price of admission.

Cassandra Kube

Author Cassandra Kube

Cassandra Kube is a senior account executive in LRO Staffing's Government division. With proven skills in supervision/management, coordination, recruitment, negotiation, and presentation continues to expand her experience and knowledge in a Human Resources capacity.

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