In December 2016, some of our BUS 361 students had the opportunity to attend the Reach Gala.
“What I’m gonna see is a lot of people going to the Reach Gala for brain cancer research,” said Bro Jake, host of TSN 1040’s morning show, to Geroy Simon, the CFL’s all-time leading receiver.
As I listened intently to my radio, Geroy agreed with Bro Jake and talked about how this gala was being organized by “a bunch of SFU students from Surrey” and how much he was looking forward to being a part of it.
Hold on – I was one of those “students”. And the Reach Gala was the term project for my BUS 361 project management class at SFU Beedie along with a team of five other students (Roy Ding, Olivia Hui, Michael Lam, John Nguyen, and Nicholas Pudarevic).
Together, in just over two months, we organized a full-fledged fundraising gala for brain cancer research which featured a banquet dinner, two inspiring keynote speakers, a silent auction, and live music.
One of the keys to pulling off an event like this is effective networking. That’s how we were able to get Geroy Simon (who was just inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame in December) as our keynote speaker and get coverage on TSN 1040 – both thanks to my boss at Pastime Sports & Games where I have worked part-time since I was twelve. And that’s how we had all the flower centerpieces donated – from United Floral, where my teammate John used to work.
My teammate Olivia and I worked at the Downtown Surrey BIA together this past summer and we told our manager about the Reach Gala. She gave us numerous suggestions on who to contact and connected us with the Kash Heed Show on 107.7 Pulse FM where I got to do an interview about the gala on air.
Thanks to a connection with Eaglequest Golf, we were able to secure a beautiful venue and fill it with paying guests. We had MP Randeep Sarai and MLA Bruce Ralston attend and even had interest from Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner and BC Premier Christy Clark.
After all expenses, the Reach Gala raised over $6,500 for brain cancer research through the Canadian Cancer Society. Over seventy guests attended and it was a success from all accounts. Networking works.
Reflecting on this tremendous experience, here are my top three tips for networking:
- Take initiative: When you come across businesspeople who work in your field of interest, get to know them. And I mean more than just adding them on LinkedIn – go for coffee with them and ask open-ended questions. Acquaint yourself with them personally and look for ways you can help them too.
- Strengthen the connections you already have: Chances are you’ve had an employer and/or a professor you know well. If you work hard and make a good impression on the people around you, they will likely be willing to help you out. Keep in touch with your employers, professors, and colleagues – many of them want you to succeed.
- Think a little harder: Did any of us think we had a connection to a harp player? Definitely not, but someone knew someone who did and we got a harpist at the Reach Gala. Be resourceful and brainstorm who you might have secondary connections with.
After putting on the Reach Gala, I have learned that there is more to your degree than just the grades on your transcript. Take advantage of the experiences available to you at Beedie and use them for good!
Daniel Breedveld is a third-year business student concentrating in marketing and management information systems. He enjoys finding innovative and effective ways to communicate ideas and recently completed a video/marketing co-op term at the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association. During his time at Beedie School of Business, Daniel has been involved with Enactus SFU and is currently a mentor with the BASS Mentorship Program. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey and playing drums at Youth Church Surrey. If this blog post caught your interest, feel free to contact Daniel at firstname.lastname@example.org.