Networking—a fancy term for a simple idea. Meet people, interact with them and build new relationships. We’re so used to networking through social media that the thought of physically interacting with people might sound a little bit alien. You could have 300 people on your LinkedIn network, another 300 on Facebook, and not know any of them well enough to know where they are from. Friendly relations between neighbours encourages real-life networking, and as old school as it may sound, it’s so valuable. Everyone has a story to tell, and you would probably miss the most interesting chapters if you had the same conversation online.
Humans are social by nature; we need to have meaningful conversations with other people to satisfy our natural instinct to know one another. Community meet-ups and common areas encourage networking with those around us. Networking doesn’t necessarily mean meeting with influential people who can help you professionally; it can also include people you can really connect with on an intellectual level. Many apartment buildings have common areas so people can lounge and get to know each other. Events like BBQs, pool parties, breakfasts and evening tea encourage tenants to get familiar with each other. While these events may seem like just a casual breakfast (free food!), they’re also opportunities to discuss concerns and get valuable information. For example, downtown apartment dwellers might be happy to learn about the Downtown Watch Ambassadors.
Networking isn’t just about advancing your career; it’s also about bonds between neighbours, an important part of apartment living. Being on good terms with your neighbours means you have someone to turn to in case of an emergency, or just to call over for a cup of tea if you’re having a bad day and need someone to talk to. You can surround yourself with people you trust who can eventually become part of your support system. Good neighbours can end up feeling like family when you’re living alone.
The great thing about downtown Winnipeg is the strong sense of community that the area promotes. Most apartment buildings are designed to have spaces for general use. Downtown boasts wonderful cultural diversity, making networking even more fun! You can get to know people from varied backgrounds, find out first-hand details about other cultures, and learn about entirely different ways of life.
My apartment building used to have the best BBQ parties for tenants where we would all just chat; it was fun to find out that I had a police officer and ballet dancer living on the same floor as me. At one BBQ, I saw a distinguished-looking gentleman hand over his business card to a student looking for an internship. It felt so good to be living in a community where people were looking out for each other and helping out where they could. These meet-ups can even help recent immigrants build their social circles and meet new people.
These BBQs also gave me a unique chance to meet people from different cultural backgrounds. The chance to listen to stories about what they did and experienced “back home” was really special.
The next time you’re invited to a breakfast in your apartment building, think twice before deciding you’d rather sleep in than get up early and meet new people. You might meet someone who can open your eyes to a new view of the world!
BBQs, breakfasts, and boardgame nights are just a few examples of great ways to make friends with your neighbours. What’s your favourite way to meet new people?