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Entrepreneur Kelly Hoey on how to network (and negotiate) like a pro


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Entrepreneur Kelly Hoey on how to network (and negotiate) like a pro

Kelly Hoey — investor, entrepreneur and networking guru — is a household name right now, but that hasn’t always been the case.

Before she became a successful investor and author behind “Build Dream Your Own Network” she worked as a lawyer. While she never had a “burning desire” to practice law she enjoyed it. Her ambition to continue working up the corporate ladder all changed after she met Janet Hanson — founder of 85 Broads, a global business network for women. The “visionary leader” inspired her to trade law for entrepreneurship and launch a brand new career.

Below the acclaimed business consultant dishes on how she’s managed to transform her career and how others can throughout their careers.

[This interview has been edited for clarity]

You’ve successfully reinvented your career over the years multiple times. How can others emulate your success?

Stay curious and stay connected to your networks. I’m a former corporate lawyer who has networked her career into becoming a published author. A professional milestone I never imagined adding to my resume. From my initial jobs as an attorney to my numerous career-changes (law firm management, president of a global network for women, consultant, director and co-founder of a startup accelerator) my career is only explained by my ability to network and build relationships.

You mention in your book that part of your professional growth and achievements is down to “marketing” and self-promotion.  Why is this important?

Your career is your best investment. Be prepared to put the time and effort into that investment. Venture capitalist Jessica Peltz-Zatulove outlines how she “cold-emailed” her way into the Madison Avenue advertising industry in chapter three [of my book]. And, one of my favourite case studies is Joe Styler a manager in the aftermarket department at GoDaddy. He shares in the book how he networked from an entry-level position at the company to a recognized industry-expert in a coveted role.

Another career networking lesson: Don’t overlook the possibility you can pivot and advance your career within the same company!

What advice would you share with  entrepreneurs who want to take their careers to the next level?

No one ever goes it alone. Our careers or projects or initiatives are propelled forward with the help of other people. Find mentors around you. Having mentors as well as being a good mentor is critical for learning how to master a new skill or navigate the dynamics of the business community.

Mentoring comes in a variety of forms – it can be one piece of advice, a blog post or a podcast. It does not have to be a 1:1 coffee date. It does not have to be a lifelong commitment. In reality, just as you don’t have time, that dream mentor may not have the time either for regular 1:1 coffee dates with you. Most people do have the time to answer a well thought-through email. Mentors are there to guide you through thorny work or professional challenges. If someone can help you sort out a work challenge by answering a question (once), well, why isn’t that considered mentoring?

STEM has received a lot criticism for its lack of diversity. What can insiders do to help change those statistics?

Again, be a mentor. Hire interns. Volunteer at hackathons at local libraries or community centers. Make it a career priority to expand your network and to share your interest in STEM with a more have a diverse group of people. [That means] industry, geography, tenure, experience, gender, education and whatever else you can think of.

A broad, diverse network is going to allow you to provide others with more opportunities (and you’ll get more ideas and feedback too). Keep in mind: the power of networking is not just the person you’ve just mentored or tutored or trained. [Networking] is all the people that person is connected to, too.

What books, tools or technologies would you recommend for people in the early stages of networking?

I always recommend Katharine Graham’s “Personal History”. Katharine led her family’s newspaper through Watergate.

Whether you want to be a fiction writer or not you should also read Stephen King’s “On Writing”. It is as much about how to dedicate yourself to your chosen craft as it is on understanding how you come up with new ideas and communicate them.

Watch Ray Anderson’s Ted Talk “The Business Logic Of Sustainability”. There’s also Phil Hansen’s novel called “Embrace The Shake,” too. Also, join the CreativeMornings breakfast lecture series community.

To hear more of Kelly Hoey’s advice, personal guidance or to ask her questions in person attend this upcoming event at the DMZ for free.

The best tech conferences left in 2017

Tech conferences are more popular now than ever before. From Toronto’s Elevate to TechCrunch in San Francisco there are a bevy of industry-focused events entrepreneurs and business owners can choose from nowadays.

If you’re interested in diversifying your personal network, learning new skills or trying out the latest gadgets on the market now is the time to do it. Here’s your guide to the top tech conferences in North America

So many tech conferences, so little time:

Elevate Toronto

Sept. 12 – Sept. 14, 2017
Location: Toronto
Ticket price: $647 CAD

This three-day conference in the heart of Toronto is designed with techpreneurs in mind. Founders from Canada’s top companies will be on site doling out advice, guidance and tips to those lucky enough to score a ticket.

Early-stage startups can rub elbows with talend developers looking for work and pitch the city’s lawmakers and top on their home turf. Investors like Michelle Scarborough (from BDC) and Bruce Croxon (from Round 13 Capital) will dole out advice. Those willing to splurge on conferences can take a private tour of Toronto’s most innovative tech companies.

Bonus: This year festival organizers will provide 40 free passes to minority and low-income conference goers. To apply make sure to check out their website starting August 25, 2017.

TechCrunch Disrupt SF

Sept. 18 – Sept. 20, 2017
Location: San Francisco
Ticket price: Starting at $1,995 USD

If you’re a Canadian entrepreneur looking to meet new clients, drum up some media publicity south of the border or just learn new industry tricks from some of the best and brightest influencers then TechCrunch Disrupt is for you.

Entrepreneurs can take part money-making startup competitions, attend conference showcases presented by well-known investors or attend one of the many networking and skill-based sessions. Tickets for this showcase aren’t cheap – early-bird tickets start at $1,900 US, (link) which doesn’t include airfare, accommodation or food – but for companies looking to build traction in the U.S. it can be worth the cost.


Oct. 22 – Oct. 25, 2017
Location: Las Vegas
Ticket price: $2,995 USD (discounts available for eligible startups)

If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the fast-paced world of fintech then Money2020 — billed as “the world’s largest payments and financial services innovation event” – is the place to go. Last year’s event included attendees from over 85 countries and this year features hour-long sessions on everything from data privacy to new-age mobile banking in developing countries and blockchain technology.

A range of skill-testing startup competitions and hackathons are also on offer for developers hoping to showcase their skills or find new employment opportunities. Regular tickets retail for $2,995 but discounts of up to 50 per cent are available for select retailers and startups (link).


Oct. 27, 2017
Location: Toronto
Ticket price: $500 – $1,000 CAD

A good conference is about more than just networking and tech demonstrations. A great event will push participants to be better and inspires attendees to try new things.

While TEDxToronto isn’t exclusively focused on technology its seminars, presented by local influencers, tackle subjects and ideas that impact every facet of life and often touch on technology in some form. These profoundly inspiring talks deal with everything from company leadership and career motivation.

This year’s speakers include Paul Rowan (co-founder of home design store Umbra), Gimmy Chu (co-founder of green technology startup Nano Leaf) and Peter Sloly (partner at Deloitte Canada). Torontonians who can’t afford the $1,000 price tag can also watch highlights online in the weeks following the event.

Mesh Marketing

Nov. 6, 2017
Location: Toronto
Ticket price: $299 CAD

If you’re a professional who deals with both marketing and technology, then Mesh Marketing might be the most useful for your long-term goals.

This international event deep dives into operational issues and discusses strategy-focused topics to help attendees better understand marketing technologies. Attendees also take part in the invite-only networking events that take place after the conferences and get a front-row seat to other related marketing events the company throws throughout the year.