Browsing Category

Do Well

The Importance of Skin Care in our Self-Care Regimen

The fall and winter season can be a really stressful time. We transition out of a fun, laid-back summer and almost immediately we have to get back into our routines to finish the year strong.

From work responsibilities to personal commitments, we can feel a lot of pressure as we realize there’s only a few months left before the end of the year. This pressure tends to manifest itself in the form of stress, lack of sleep, poor eating habits and simply a jam-packed schedule as we attend everything from networking events to holiday parties.

skin care

Combine all of this with the cool, dry climate and well…not only do we feel tired but we start to really look like it too.

To listen to an audio version of this blogpost, click Play below!

Yes, I’m speaking from personal experience and it’s not one I’m proud of. As soon as the cooler temperatures hit, my face gets extra dry and I start breaking out. I typically do not wear any makeup on a regular day but to cover up my breakouts, I find myself putting on foundation which only makes my skin worse.

My personal self-care regimen is not perfect. In fact, typically my self-care days involve binge-watching a show on Netflix while snacking on a bag of popcorn. Quite honestly, I don’t give my skin care much thought even though these salty foods can certainly contribute to my breakouts as well.

skin care

It was almost perfect timing when I received the opportunity to try out the For Beloved One Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Bio-Cellulose Mask and Moisturizing Serum. I was becoming tired of the current state of my skin and needed to develop a good skin care regimen…and fast! I purposely waited until the Monday night on the long weekend to try this out so that it would be the perfect way to relax before starting the work week.

Here’s a short play-by-play:

  • I started by cleansing my face to ensure that it was completely clean before putting on the mask


  • After peeling off the protective layers both in front and behind the mask, I placed it on my face and then used my fingers to spread it so that everywhere was covered.


  • Again, I’m not a huge skin care guru so I was probably way too excited by the fact that it was instantly so refreshing on my skin. It was like I could feel it moisturizing my pores and I felt super relaxed.


  • I had to wait about 15-20 minutes before taking it off so during this time, I may or not may not have decided to pop back downstairs and scare my husband LOL!


  • Ok, 15 minutes were up and I peeled it off. My face felt pretty good! You also don’t have to rinse it off so I just used my fingers to rub in the rest of the solution that was visible on my face and then proceeded to use the serum.


  • I pumped a small amount into my hand and massaged it into my face. Not bad! My skin felt really hydrated and it hasn’t felt that way in a while.

skin care

Of course, I’ve only used it once so I know that to really see results that I’ll need to continue using it but it was a much-needed reminder that I can’t keep ignoring skincare because it’s a very crucial part of self-care. When my face feels dry and I have tons of breakouts, I don’t feel very good about myself and it starts to affect my self-esteem. It’s not a good place to be in.

I’m committed to being way more proactive with my skincare so that even if I am a little tired from my commitments, you definitely won’t be able to tell! I hope that this encourages you to do the same. I know, we’re all so focused on finishing the year strong but make sure that you take some time for yourself and give your skin the attention it deserves.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary PR sample of the mask and serum but this post or my opinions were not sponsored in any way. I only feature products on Do Well Dress Well that I have personally tried and feel confident that it would be of benefit to my readers.

Stylish and Successful: Katherine Highgate

I’ve said it before but I have to say it again – my absolute favourite thing about what I do is being able to connect with such amazing women. After all, that’s what inspired me to start this series so I can share their knowledge, insights and words of encouragement with you!

Katherine reached out to me a few weeks ago and literally after a few seconds of learning about her, I knew she had to be the next Stylish and Successful feature. You’ll read her full bio below but in a nutshell, she’s a super ambitious woman who has been participating in pageants for over 15 years! She was Miss Trillium Canada in 2016 and was a National Finalist to Miss Universe Canada in 2017. With an educational background in Radio and Broadcast and a passion for education and volunteerism, she’s pretty much a force to be reckoned with!

Keep reading to learn more about Katherine Highgate!

Katherine Highgate

Let’s say we just met each other at a networking event. How do you introduce yourself and what you do? 

I am an aspiring media professional and a graduate of the Radio and Television program at Ryerson University. My background is in communications, and I work as a freelance writer and blogger. I also do promotional modelling in my spare time.

You’ve been in pageantry for over 15 years! That’s amazing. Tell us a little bit about your experience and what encouraged you to get into pageantry.

I started competing in pageants during my pre-teen years as a way to overcome my shyness. I was really timid as a kid and participating in pageantry did wonders for my self-confidence. I think that pageants are a great way to polish yourself and to network with new people. I have been able to build a lot of relationships through this experience and I now have friends all across the country!

I know you’re an expert now but do you still get nervous before a competition? How do you boost your confidence before going on stage?

With each competition, the nerves tend to kick in! I think that it’s important to remain positive throughout the entire process because the judges and the audience really feed off of the vibes that you’re putting out onstage. It always helps when you get to wear your dream gown because I think that when you love what you’re wearing, you feel extra confident. I’ve had lots of advice over the years from coaches advising me on wardrobe, but at the end of the day, I always wear what I feel most beautiful in.

It’s safe to say there are some negative perceptions around being in pageantry. What would you say to these people? What do you wish more people knew about it?

I think that there are a lot of misconceptions about beauty pageants in general.  What most people don’t know about the Miss Universe Canada program is that a large chunk of the score comes from the fundraising that we do on behalf of the pageant’s official charity, Operation Smile. Each of the delegates has completed a service project in support of Operation Smile and is judged on both awareness and funds raised. This aspect of the competition really makes the whole experience richer. I think that the humanitarian component is probably the area of competition that I’m most passionate about.

What would you say is the most important lesson that you’ve learned through your pageantry experience?

The most important lesson that I have learned through competing in pageants is that persistence is key. I don’t think that success happens overnight, and this is actually my second attempt at the Miss Universe Canada crown. Competing at this level has been challenging and I think that this time around, I am a much stronger contender. Perfecting a skill takes time and patience and I think that having a strong work ethic is crucial in any competition.

You also have another competition coming up soon! Tell us a little bit about this!

I will be competing for the title of Miss Universe Canada on October 7th. For the next week, I will be living with the 64 other delegates and making appearances and attending events around the city, as well as prepping for the show. It is quite a whirlwind experience and the winner will have the privilege of representing Canada on the Miss Universe stage!

Katherine Highgate

Where do you see your career in 5 years? What about 10 years? 

In five years, I hope to be more established in my career and working in broadcast television. My goal has always been to be in front of the camera but I think that it’s important to be really well rounded in this industry. Currently, I’m job shadowing a director and I would love to elevate my camera skills and technical knowledge.

I have to admit – my favourite part of watching pageants is admiring the gorgeous dresses! How does the outfit process work during a pageant? Do you pick them out yourself or do you work with a styling team?

Some girls choose to work with stylists, but picking out my own clothes is part of the fun! I get a kick out of hunting for a dress, or shoe or bag and finding a hidden gem from a local designer or funky little store on Queen Street.

How has being in pageantry influenced your personal style and how you present yourself on a daily basis?

Pageantry has taught me the importance of always presenting the most polished version of yourself. That being said, I’ve learned that an evening gown or cocktail dress does not need to cost a fortune! Dressing well is really about the fit and tailoring of the garment. I have an amazing seamstress that I work with, and my secret weapon has always been having my clothes tailored to fit me well.

What’s your favourite everyday outfit? 

I could absolutely live in an evening gown and 5 inch heels every day, if I could! I have fun shopping for evening wear but I’ve always thought that the process of looking for more practical pieces is a chore. My staple daytime outfit usually consists of a well tailored jacket and flats.

Follow Katherine on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and visit the Miss Universe Canada website for more details on the competition!



Why You Need Allies, Sponsors and Mentors in Your Network

In 2014, I attended an interview at an internationally known marketing and advertising agency. I was still 2 months away from completing my full-time Public Relations post-graduate program but I had seen the job posting online and thought it would be perfect for me.

A few weeks later, I received an email to come in for an interview. I remember walking in and feeling nervous yet really confident. I knew my stuff, I had some great practical experience and I had my portfolio in hand to prove it.

The interview finished and then I was told something along the lines of…

“We’re really impressed by you and we’d love to offer you the job…but you’re still in school!”

I was crushed but yet I don’t really know what I was expecting as I still had 2 months left before I finished my program. I wasn’t about to “drop out” so close to the finish line either. So, they told me to keep in touch and email them when I finished school.

Click below to listen to an audio version of this blogpost!

Fast forward to being a few weeks away from finishing my program (thank goodness!) and I decided to follow up again to see if there were any open roles. I received a response shortly after from the hiring manager I had interviewed with and in a nutshell, she felt that I had so much potential and even though there weren’t any open positions, she wanted to share me with her network and if I’d be ok with that.

…Um, yes, of course!!

So, this woman who I had only met once (and talked to for no longer than an hour), sent out an email to her network saying how much potential I have and if they have any open roles, they need me on their team.

I didn’t know it then (I honestly just thought she was extremely nice!) but I know it now, this woman was a sponsor – a very important person that everyone needs in their network in order to truly succeed.

We often throw around the word “network” without much context or thought to the roles that the people in our network play yet there are 3 key ones that you absolutely need to get ahead – allies, mentors and of course, sponsors.

Here’s who they are and why you need all 3 for professional success:


According to this Zen Workplace article, an ally is someone who proactively offers help and support to help you achieve your goals.

An ally goes beyond just a friend you have at work. You’re able to have open and honest conversations about salaries and career advancement because they genuinely have your best interests at heart. They will also work to push forward your ideas and ensure your work is noticed. If you work in a male-dominated field, it’s also recommended that you also have a few male allies that you can trust to really boost the trajectory of your career. These male allies should recognize their privilege within your workplace and industry and genuinely be committed to helping you succeed as well.


By definition, a mentor is an experienced and trusted advisor. As described in this Levo League article, mentors set aside dedicated time in order to offer up career advice and share wisdom and experiences to their mentees.

I’ll be honest – I’ve never had a mentor. Sure, I’ve had people here and there that have set aside time to share their insight with me but never a formal mentor/mentee relationship. I know that a lot of importance is placed on mentorship and I’m sure there is lots of value in it but typically they can only take you so far. They succeed at boosting your knowledge and confidence by sharing their experience and insight but I’ve learned that sometimes there can be a gap between equipping you with this knowledge and actual opportunity.


A sponsor is someone that is willing to put their name and reputation on the line to vouch for you. They share you with their entire network to help you land opportunities.

According to Jo Miller, Founder of Be Leaderly, “A sponsor sees how your strengths could add value in areas of the business you’ve not yet had exposure to. Due to their influence, sponsors can open more career doors than you ever thought possible. And they can see a vision for your career that is bigger than you could ever imagine.”

The interesting thing about sponsors is that you don’t necessarily find them – they find you. After all, I definitely did not know that my interview would result in me having a sponsor!

As this article in Forbes says, “finding a sponsor is far more difficult than finding a mentor. Generally, young professionals choose their mentors, whereas sponsors choose young professionals to bet on.”

Author Bonnie Marcus talks about this idea of being “sponsor ready”.  Essentially, this means you have to consistently perform at a high level and always make a good impression so that you’re a person that a potential sponsor would have no worry about associating themselves with you. Think about this the next time you go for an interview. Even if you don’t get the job, if you make a positive enough impression, you could end up with a valuable career sponsor.

Now, you may be wondering – what value does a sponsor get? Well, it’s a 2-way street. You get access to a potentially hidden network and they become known as someone who has access to high-potential people. They become a valuable asset to the people in their network.

If you’re lucky, you’ll have people that fill multiple roles. In fact, that’s probably the best case scenario to have – someone that not only dedicated time to share their insight but believes in your potential so much that they vouch for you in front of their network.

But, remember – it’s important to pay it forward so just as you seek to fill the roles of allies, sponsors and mentors in your life, look for opportunities for you to play these roles as well so you can make a lasting impact on someone else’s career.

4 Ways to Continue Your Education as a Working Woman

When I was in university, I told myself that as soon as I graduate, I would never go back to school again.

No more essays. No more textbooks and definitely no more exams. Needless to say, I was eager to get out into the working world.

Until of course, I entered the working world and realized I had it pretty good as a student compared to navigating the working world. Because…the job market is tough.

There is extremely high competition for open jobs and it can take countless applications and interviews before you find something. This also means that once you get a job, your hard work isn’t over. In order to keep your job or move into a new role, you have to remain competitive and keep your skills up to date.

With job expectations changing all the time, it’s a good idea to regularly look at job descriptions that are similar to your current role (or even better – one that you are aspiring to!) to see what skills are expected.

But, how do you find the time and money to update your skills when you work full-time?

Here are 4 ways you can continue your education as a working woman:

Sign up for a Brainstation class

After doing my regular review of job descriptions in my field, I realized that it was time to brush up on my skills. With my background in digital marketing and communications, I wanted to know what the next big skill was and I noticed that “User Experience” was consistent among all of them. Fast forward about a week and I was officially enrolled in the 5-week part-time User Experience Design course at Brainstation located in downtown Toronto.

I’m sure many of you are probably wondering – what in the world is User Experience? Well, user experience is the quality of a person’s interaction with a product or system. The course focused on websites and apps and I found the content to be extremely relevant to anyone – whether you work in digital marketing or not!

I really love the culture at Brainstation and I found it to be a quick but valuable way to gain new skills in a short amount of time. A Brainstation course is so different from the traditional post-secondary institution as you’re taught by instructors that currently work in the field and everything you learn can immediately be applied to the real world. Another great thing about them? They offer scholarships to help make the course cost more affordable.

Thinking about signing up? Click here to get $40 in Brainstation credit that you can use towards courses, workshops and events! I’ll also get $40 in credit too, so I may just see you around sometime ;)*

Watch a TED Talk

Not only are TED Talks a great source of inspiration (watch one on a day you’re feeling uninspired and you’ll see what I mean) but they are full of educational content. What’s great about TED Talks is that a wide variety of subjects are covered which means you’re guaranteed to find one that piques your interest. You can search by subject via the TED website or a simple search on YouTube will do the trick too!

Watch a course on

Lynda is a video-based online learning platform that allows people to learn business, software and creative skills. They were acquired by LinkedIn in XXXX and since then they’ve seamlessly integrated the two platforms to help take your professional career to new heights. When looking at a job description, LinkedIn will recommend relevant courses that you should take on Lynda to help you increase your qualifications. Plus, you can literally take your courses anywhere as you can watch the video via the mobile site or their apps – perfect for when you’re on the go! Sign up for a free trial to see how you like it.

Take the CEO 60 Challenge

What do some of the world’s top CEO’s have in common? Aside from of course, having tons of money. They typically read 4-5 books per month to an average of 60 books a year! There is so much knowledge to be found within books and many CEO’s have said that their best ideas have come from being inspired by a recent read. Now, I’m not saying that you necessarily have to read 60 books as well but it’s a helpful reminder that education doesn’t always mean classes, textbooks and exams. There are so many options for consuming books from e-readers, audio books or good ol’ physical books if you’re old-fashioned like I am. Don’t forget – magazines are a great way to learn too. I religiously read the physical issues of Entrepreneur Magazine and Fast Company each month as each issue is packed with informative articles.

What’s your favourite way to gain new knowledge and skills?

Full disclosure: I was a Brainstation brand ambassador while enrolled in my course which allowed me to receive a discount on my course. Regardless, I still would have taken the course and I still would honestly recommend it as a viable option for continuing your education. Brainstation did not sponsor this post and the opinions I’ve shared are my open and honest beliefs! 

6 Ways to Give Your Personal Brand a Fall Refresh

The start of the fall season is always an exciting time. As the weather begins to cool, it’s like we all snap back into reality as we say goodbye to yet another summer and prepare to conquer the remaining months of the year. There’s no shortage of events and career opportunities in the fall with many of us finding our calendars quickly book up!

You’ll be meeting tons of people at said events (potentially attending interviews too!) which consequently leads to more people viewing your social profiles as well.

To ensure you’re fully prepared for these impending outings and opportunities, let me ask you this – when was the last time you updated your personal brand?

Here are 6 ways to give your personal brand a fall refresh:

Update your headshots

Your profile photo is the first thing that people look at on your social profile. If yours is a quick selfie you took on your own or just a completely outdated photo (perhaps your hair is drastically different?), it’s time to make a change. Hire a photographer or ask a friend who can take a decent photo to help you take new headshots. Not only will it immediately refresh your online profiles but it is always good to have a professional set of photos on hand for any speaking or promotional opportunity you may receive.

Before your shoot, be sure to check out my post on How to Prepare for a Personal Brand Photoshoot with tips from myself and photographer Laura Benn from Gooseberry Studios!

Update social profiles

Started a new job? Recently worked on a new project? Add and edit details on your social profiles, especially your bio! Make sure your LinkedIn profile reflects your current role and all section are complete. You can always read up on How to Get an All-Star Profile on LinkedIn for a full checklist.

Check your business card supply

With all the networking events you can attend this season, you should make sure you have an ample amount of business cards ready to go. Order more if required but before you do – ensure that your information is up-to-date so that people can easily get in contact with you!

Update your wardrobe

Now this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go out and get a completely new wardrobe but it’s a great time to complete a strategic audit of your closet. Check for the wardrobe essentials and add any necessary pieces that will help you get through the fall season (and into the winter season!) in style. Don’t forget – a wardrobe change can boost your productivity!

Review your goals

Have you been achieving your goals? With only a few months left in the year, it’s a great time to sit and reflect on what you’ve accomplished and what you still have left to work on. My goal-setting process typically involves setting both short-term and long-term goals but everyone’s process is different. However you choose to do it, be sure that your goals are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) to increase the likelihood of actually achieving them!

Another way to ensure you’ll achieve your goals? Writing them somewhere that you’ll see them everyday! I’ve been loving the Better Life Planner from the Better Life Project, a success planner designed for life long learners! Now, this is not just your average planner – it has nice big pages to write ALL of your tasks plus you can track your goals each month and week! And did I mention you can also keep track of your reading lists and gifts you need to buy? Get your copy of the Better Life Planner to help you finish 2017 strong and start 2018 on the right foot! Use my code DWDW15 for an exclusive 15% discount!

Analyze your social media and content strategy

To consistently position yourself as an expert, you should be leveraging social media and content with a well-devised strategy. By far, building your personal brand using content is one of the most valuable things you can do to gain new opportunities.

How will you be giving your personal brand a fall refresh?


Note: The Better Life Planner discount is an affiliate link which means I may receive a small commission from your purchase. You should know that I very rarely share affiliate links and if I do, it means that it’s a product I truly do love and trust! 🙂 

Chanele’s Check-In: August 2017

In August, I…

Books I Read:

  • The Hate U Give (review coming soon!)

In September, I’m looking forward to…

  • Renewing my sense of focus
  • Being featured in a campaign by one of my favourite brands
  • Celebrating my 2 year wedding anniversary
  • Shooting some fall outfit photos
  • Finishing up my User Experience Design course

Expectations and disappointments

They say August is a month of new beginnings. After all, it’s the month before “back to school” so it’s no wonder many of get excited for the impending fresh start.

I’m one of those people. As soon as August hits, I start to get into “refresh mode” – almost like a second opportunity to start new and crush my goals for the rest of the year. So like any other year, I had set goals and expectations in August and got some amazing opportunities that initially aligned with said goals and then…they fell through.

Was I upset? Come on, you should know better than to ask. If you’ve been following along with my check-in posts each month, you know that crying is typically my default reaction to anything. Happy? Cry. Sad? Cry. Frustrated? Cry. That’s me in a nutshell.

But after that initial disappointment, I actually felt kind of empowered (and happy – but more on that later). Through that experience, I spent a lot of time self-analyzing and realized that I have this tendency to set my expectations way too high. I realized – if I try to get better at managing my expectations, the disappointment won’t hurt as much. 

My thing has always been that if I don’t set high expectations it may come off as me being negative and I typically like to be very optimistic. More often than not, I give people the benefit of the doubt – are you like this too? 

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately especially as I get older and realize how society contributes to these expectations. Go to school, work hard, get a job, get married, etc. etc. It’s all supposed to be easy peasy. But not often do we stop and think about whether we’re trying to live by our own expectations or those that other people have for us. Which leads me to my next point of discussion…

“So, when are you going to work on DWDW full-time?”

That my friends, is one of the most commonly asked questions that I get. Like all.the.time. 

And for the longest time, my response would be “Soon!” and I would give some sort of timeline. 

The thing I never stopped to think about though is – I actually don’t mind working. In fact, I’m pretty good at it. For my day job, I work in digital marketing and communications. Even as I start to really figure out what particular things I like and don’t like, I’m enjoying this phase in my career. 

All of this to say – I want to keep working, as much as I can because the experiences that I gain through my career have helped fuel Do Well Dress Well. It’s where I get 90% of the inspiration for new blogposts and it’s what I hope makes me somewhat credible when I share my career advice with you. 

I mentioned being happy about the opportunities falling through. Well, the experience has allowed me to regain focus and reevaluate what my goals are. It has empowered me in ways I haven’t felt before and that makes all the disappointment worth it.

But wouldn’t you love more time? 

Oh, absolutely. But I’ve also had a chance to reevaluate how I’m spending my time and I’ve realized that I can be much more efficient. So why give myself more time when I’m not being fully productive with the time I do have? Full-time entrepreneurship is not for everyone nor do you have to rush to get there. Respect and trust the process and do things when you’re ready – not when other people tell you that you should be.

I went back and forth on whether or not I should post this. That’s why I’m publishing this a lot later in the month than usual. But I decided to go for it because I know I’m not alone and I hope that through my openness, it encourages you to find the silver lining in any disappointment. You’re awesome and the opportunities that are meant for you will never pass you by. 

Until next month,


Event Recap: ideate networking’s 1st anniversary brunch

Exactly one year ago this month, I wrote a recap on the launch event for ideate. I remember how I felt when I was writing it out – I was happy, excited and full of adrenaline as I thought about the rush of emotions I felt after hosting an event for the first time. At that moment, the possibilities felt endless and I was just so excited to get started on planning the second event.

Fast forward to today and we’re already at the 1st anniversary. Somehow time just flew by and within one year, I was able to host 4 events. When August started to approach, I knew that I couldn’t let the anniversary go by without a celebration. I believe that taking time to reflect is very important and besides you know what they say, the only time you should ever look back is to see how far you’ve come! ideate has evolved so much since the initial event and I’m sure it will continue to evolve in the years to come.

For the anniversary event, we decided to go back to the same format as the first event – a small, intimate brunch. There’s nothing like enjoying a delicious meal in the company of like-minded women.

Since starting ideate, I’ve developed an interest in event decor. I love how creative you can get and I’ve really seen how much it contributes to the overall ambiance and experience at the event. After a bit of brainstorming, I though it would be fun to go with a tropical theme!

We chose to host the brunch at The Apricot Tree Cafe, a cute little restaurant in Mississauga. I personally had never eaten there before but the reviews online were all very positive. Let’s just say they did not disappoint. From their willingness to accommodate all of our requests to the quality of the meals, they are definitely a place that I highly recommend!

This event was a lot more laid-back than the others in that we didn’t have a set topic planned for us to discuss. I wanted it to be super casual with conversation flowing freely and naturally.

Overall, it was a really great afternoon with a unique mix of ladies with various careers and backgrounds. By the end of the afternoon, I felt much closer to all of them and we took so many pictures too!

Thank you to every single woman that came out to recognize the anniversary and a big thank you to The Apricot Tree Cafe for having us! On to year two!

All photography by Nancy Asante.

How I Host Networking Events as an Introvert

If you asked 16 year old me if I would ever host a networking event (or any type of event for that matter), I definitely would have asked you if you’re crazy.

Me? Host an event? Speak in front of people? No way.

For most of my life, I was known as the small, shy girl. Even in my final year of high school, I had someone write in my yearbook, “Hi Chanèle! I’ll always remember you as the small, shy girl.” Still to this day, I’m not sure if it was meant to be a compliment or an insult.

Here’s a picture of me at 15/16 years old!

Either way, for the longest time, I never made any effort to change this. I’m an introvert and I just have to deal with that, I’d tell myself while I would longingly admire people who could speak in front of crowds with ease.

Until of course, I entered an industry where networking is absolutely crucial to success and I all of a sudden became determined to create more of a legacy than just being the “small, shy girl”. Despite the anxiety I felt around these situations, I forced myself to attend. With my sweaty palms (and let’s be honest – my armpits, too), I’d walk in and although it would take literally everything inside of me to stop myself from running back out the door, I’d stay and attempt to engage in conversation.

But then of course, my anxiety would flare back up as I think about all the different dilemmas we’re faced with at the average networking event. Should I go get a drink? Ok, I can’t get a drink and a snack or else how will I shake people’s hands? Who should I talk to first? I don’t want to sound corny…think of something smart to start the conversation, Chanèle! These people are talking in a group, should I insert myself? I’m ready to leave, how do I end the conversation?!

As I think back to the many events I have attended, most times I would leave with nothing but the feeling of serious overwhelm. I would barely make a single connection! The room would be so crowded that you’re not even really sure who is there and the host has made no effort to help their attendees make meaningful connections.

As an introvert, attending a networking event requires so much emotional energy. To have to deal with the anxiety and sweaty armpits and still leave without receiving any value – what really is the point? I could have just stayed home and read a book, I’d tell myself as I’d make my way home after yet another pointless event. It’s no wonder that many people I speak to say that they “hate” networking.

Instead of just deeming networking to be a lost cause, I took this anxiety and frustration and together with my business bestie Jem Castor, we created our own events – the networking events we always dreamed of. I had just launched Do Well Dress Well earlier in the year and I was excited by the idea of adding this “offline” element to my brand.

The goal was simple: to create an intimate space for young professional women to come together and make meaningful, long-term connections. On Sunday, August 6th 2016, ideate was officially launched. You can read the full recap of that event here.

This picture was taken just a few minutes before the first event started. I may be smiling but

behind this smile, I was holding back a whole lot of nerves!

I don’t think I need to go into detail on the level of nerves I had leading up to the first event because I’m sure by now, you could just picture it. I mean, I thought I was bad when all I had to do was simply attend an event but to actually organize AND host my own event?! I think my husband had to give me at least 10 pep talks during the week leading up to it (thanks Chris!), I didn’t sleep the night before and I honestly thought I would pass out while waiting for the first few attendees to show up.

Well, they did show up and women from across the Greater Toronto Area have continued to show up for ideate events ever since.

It has now been one year since the initial event and this past Sunday I hosted our 5th event – an anniversary brunch. What started off as just an small idea has become a full-fledged, diverse community of young professional women. Many of whom who just like myself would call themselves introverts yet have found comfort and value in the relaxed networking environment that we’ve created. It’s an event that has become a favourite of both introverts and extroverts alike.

During the pre-event registration, we gather information from each attendee including a short bio and social media handles. Prior to the event, this information is sent out to each registered attendee via a Google doc so that everyone is able to get well-acquainted before they even walk in the door. Many of our events have also started with a group networking activity. As J. Kelly Hoey says in her exceptional book Build Your Dream Network, we need to stop committing “random acts of networking“. “Effective networking requires purpose and preparation.

ideate networking continues to receive such positive feedback on how welcoming our events are, the overall professionalism and of course, the small guest list that allows each attendee to meet every single person and make real connections. Although we have new guests each time, many of our attendees are repeat guests and for me, there’s no better feeling than when I see them hug and say “Hey, we sat beside each other at the last event! So nice to see you again!”

Through creative programming (we’ve done everything from brunches, lunches, DIY activities and panel discussions), we regularly come together for themed discussions. From work-life balance to personal branding and discovering your “why”, the conversations that happen at an ideate networking event are open, honest and meaningful. It truly has become more than just your average networking event. It’s a community or as I like to call it, a sisterhood.

Introverts are often led to believe that our “quiet” nature is a weakness. As Susan Cain says in her book Quiet, “introversion has become a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology.” Yet some of the world’s greatest ideas and inventions have come from “quiet” people who tuned into their inner workings to uncover treasure. Albert Einstein, J.K. Rowling and Dr. Seuss are all known introverts yet have still made some of the most significant contributions to society. Introverts are often led to believe that we’re unable to change and our “quiet” nature is a weakness.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself during this process it’s that I may dislike chaos but I flourish in a community. Large groups and aimless small talk…not my thing. Small groups, meaningful and deliberate conversation and building community…that’s when I’m at my absolute best.

Don’t get me wrong, I still get a little nervous before each event and I just can’t seem to stop the nervous sweating. (Although, here’s a pro tip I’ve learned: wear a sleeveless top to a networking event so you don’t have to worry about sweat pits). But, not only have I added “networking event host” to my resume in the last year, I’ve also become a speaker who has spoken for organizations like Royal Bank of Canada, City of Toronto, Avanti Women and Young Women in Business Toronto. 

Coincidentally, just a few weeks ago, life came full circle. I received a message from a high school acquaintance that said “Wow, I remember you from high school! You were such a shy girl and now look at you!” and instantly, the biggest smile came across my face.

I did it!

If this is what can happen in just one year, I can’t wait to see what else the future has in store.

6 Tips for Effectively Using Direct Messages for Networking

Some of my most meaningful connections, friendships, career opportunities, event sponsors all share one thing in common…the relationship started with a direct message (DM) via social media.

Crazy, right?

For those who may be unfamiliar, a direct message (most commonly referred to as a DM) is a private message sent to a user via any social media platform. You can send DM’s on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

The thing is, DMs often get a bad rap. 

Photographer: Gooseberry Studios

Continue Reading