16 ways to get the most out of ConnectOTT (or any other networking event)!

Attending any networking event can be a bit nerve wracking! It can feel awkward and forced, but it’s essential for developing your career and your network in any industry – before you need it.

Feeling prepared can help make everything go smoothly, and we’ve got you covered. Here are our tips on how to prepare for and get the most out of ConnectOTT (or any other event!) this year.


1. Think about what you’d like to get out of ConnectOTT.

Are you looking for a mentor? A career? Advice on how to get a promotion? Having an end goal in mind, will help you frame any questions you may have for the industry leaders you speak with. Have a mental list of industry and career related questions ready to go so you can work them into conversations. (Make sure to have questions!)

2. Research the leaders in your industry and in your selected industry categories.

Check out their detailed profiles on our website and look them up on LinkedIn before you meet. Learn one random fact about the leaders in your category that you can use to strike up a conversation.

3. Update your LinkedIn profile.

Make sure your profile is up to date and includes your current career details. If your profile photo is from 2008, maybe it’s time for an update! Optimize your LinkedIn profile so that it is easily searchable for any connections that you make before, during and after the event. You never know who you’ll make an impression on that is researching YOU!

4. Don’t forget your business cards!

Make sure your business cards are ready to go and up to date – bring no less than 50 with you for the night.

5. Practice your handshake.

It sounds funny, but it can be really make for an awkward intro especially if you’re guilty of the “lobster claw.  Find a pal to practice with, and nail down a confident handshake to make a great first impression.

6. Get connected in advance.

Find leaders in your categories of choice on Twitter and follow them before the event. There will be lots of live tweeting during the event, and even a live feed projecting the @ConnectOTT account and the event hashtag (#connectott) on our Twitter wall. Check our website for the full list of the Industry Leader Twitter handles.

7. Avoid the elevator pitch

You don’t want to sound pre-rehearsed. Think about what you do, what you love and what makes you great, but don’t get stuck in “sales mode”.  Focus on natural conversation, listening to others and asking questions. Asking questions instead of only talking about yourself, can help you quickly discover things in common and build relationships.

8. Bring a pen!

You never know when you’ll need to write down en email, phone number or important fact to remember someone by.

9. Dress the part!

Your wardrobe can have a major impact on your mood and confidence. Pay attention to the dress code and make sure you dress accordingly. You don’t want to stick out by being super under-dressed. When in doubt, try to find pictures from last year on social media to get a feel for the room. We’ve got some of those too.

FYI – ConnectOTT’s dress code = business. (Pants are not optional – sorry!)


10. Be present.

Try to leave your phone in your pocket or face down during dinner conversation. You’ll appear more approachable and be less distracted. Share your #ConnectOTT experience when you have downtime between conversations.

11. Don’t leave anything on the table.

Talk to everyone around you, no regrets; don’t leave the event leaving anything on the table – take advantage of the opportunities in front of you. ConnectOTT is only once a year. Make sure to learn at least one new thing about a few young professionals at your table and around the room – networking with your peers is just as valuable.

12. Make eye contact

Always make eye contact when shaking hands or having conversation with anyone. It shows your are confident and paying attention.

13. Be social (get it?).

Use the #ConnectOTT hash tag when posting about the event on social media, so you can easily connect and find others who are there with you! Take part in the live tweeting during the event, and take your connections even further by tweeting at Industry Leaders or other young professionals after you meet them. (P.S. We’re on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!)

14. Write down a quick fact for each new person you connect with.laptop-868501_960_720

Each time you get a business card, remember to take a second and write something to remember them by that you can use later when you reach out. (They love sushi /they interned at the same company you’re at now/they have 6 dogs) Nothing worse than finding a stack of cards 3 months later and completely forgetting who they are. (Wah Wah)


15. Solidify your connections on social.

Add your business card contacts to LinkedIn and Twitter within 2 days of the event. If you leave it any longer than that and you’ll risk forgetting entirely.

16. Don’t let connections go cold. 

Did you have a memorable conversation with someone at the event? Make sure you message those you made a connection with to thank them for their time or let them know it was great to meet them. You never know where this conversation can take you!

Any other tips we’ve missed for young professionals out there? Tweet at us using the hash tag #ConnectOTT.

ConnectOTT goes behind the scenes with Shopify to share their new-hire success story from last year’s event

File_002 (4)Last week, ConnectOTT was invited to Shopify’s headquarters in downtown Ottawa to get the inside scoop on how being matched with a young professional last year, led to the expansion of their team.

“You need to get to know people,” Doug, Executive Search at Shopify, commented, “and it’s a lot easier to get to know a person in person than just sending in CVs and cover letters. I enjoy networking events and I like the structure that ConnectOTT put into this.”



With the help of local filmmaker and photographer Brooks Hunter of Robanzo Pictures , ConnectOTT got a behind-the-scenes tour of the office at 150 Elgin, to learn about the culture that Shopify has created, which even included a few minutes of hover board lesson…attempts!

Hoverboard“I got involved with directing this video for ConnectOTT because they have created one of the best cross-industry networking events for young professionals in the city,” says Hunter, “It’s been quite fun collaborating with the team thus far and it’s clear they’re picking up an even greater momentum and will be a key player in the Ottawa connection industry for years to come. Looking forward to being there!”


At last year’s event, Ottawa student and soon to be graduate, Kat Drobnjakovic got the nerve to walk up and talk to Doug during the cocktail reception. They hit it off right away and when they found out they had been strategically matched by ConnectOTT for the dessert course, they continued the conversation and got a chance to really learn about each other.  Kat made such an impression on Doug throughout the evening, that within a couple of weeks, she became one of Shopify’s Software Developers!


Watch the the full story in the exclusive interview with Doug and Kat below!

This year’s event is on March 31st at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. Buy your tickets at www.connectott.com and reserve your industries. Who knows? By this time next year, you too could be working your dream job!

Our 2016 Menu

Young Professional Meal

Earn Your Seat With Shopify

March 1 to March 8


New this year, we’re hosting  a contest for 18 lucky young professionals to earn their seat at the invite-only Shopify table at ConnectOTT!  

Contest winners will have the opportunity to sit at the Shopify table and get VIP networking time with two Shopify Industry Leaders!

anna lambert

Anna Lambert

Director of Talent Acquisition, Shopify

Anna is the Director of Talent Acquisition at Shopify. Since joining Shopify in 2011, she’s helped build the company from 150 employees to over 1000. Anna is the co-founder of an apparel company called Caged Collective, an avid snowboarder, and a one-time* marathon runner.

Anna has completed one marathon and has committed to “never doing that again”.

lynsey thornton

Lynsey Thornton

Director of Research & Content, Shopify

Lynsey is the Director of Research & Content at Ottawa’s own local success story, Shopify. With a multi-disciplinary background in design, project management and business, her career to date has focussed on advancing UX and design practices in high-growth tech companies. Her true loves are ethnographic research, and developing women in tech.

Shopify is looking to connect with people who think differently and are making a big impact. Winners will be selected directly by Anna and Lynsey.

Young professionals from all industries are encouraged to enter!

Shopify is not only looking to hire, but they are also interested in mentoring, having great conversations, meeting interesting people and getting more connected to the community in Ottawa.

If this sounds like you, apply to earn your seat at the Shopify table by filling out the form below.

Winners will receive:

  • 1 Free ticket to ConnectOTT ($80+ value)
  • Guaranteed one course with TWO Shopify Industry Leaders
  • Dinner with 4 additional industry leaders in  2 industries of their choice
  • A chance to make an impact with influential leaders in Ottawa

How to enter:

Shopify wants to know your answers to these 5 questions. Fill out the form to submit your entry. 

Deadline: You have until March 8th before midnight EST to enter.


The Fine Print

Following the regular event format, contest winners will have one of their three industry table selections filled by Shopify, and the remaining two tables will be selected from their industry preferences. So make those 30 minutes count!

The contest winners will be announced on March 14th 2016. All contest winners will be reimbursed for their conference ticket if they have already purchased one. (The event is expected to sell out – we strongly recommend that anyone interested in attending the event purchase a ticket as soon as possible, rather than waiting for the winners to be announced.)

This is an earn your seat with Shopify, not an earn your job contest. Shopify is not required to hire anyone from ConnectOTT. If they see potential and a connection is made, they can put the candidate through the process but there is no guarantee.

This contest is only open to residents of Ontario.

For full contest rules & regulations, click here: www.connectott.com/rules