grace lanuzaGrace Lanuza is a connector, a real networker. I don’t know if we’ve ever met someone so good at talking to people and making new connections. She was the perfect person to ask our favourite networking questions to, because she had all the right answers.

Grace’s fifteen-plus years in the ever-changing world of experiential marketing taught her the importance of having the right team in the right roles. Managing the brands of Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies such as Procter & Gamble Beauty, Unilever, John Frieda, Kao, Coca-Cola, Labatt/Anheuser Busch, Microsoft XBOX, Rogers Wireless, Atlantic Canada House for the 2010 Winter Olympics, and many others has given her a variety of experience in consumer behavior and shopper marketing.

Here are Grace’s answers to networking at the beginning of her career, and how she had adapted to networking today.

Q: How and where did you form your most significant contacts? How have these changed over time?

In the beginning of my career, my networking goal was to extend my reach within Canada and the U.S., then globally. This was before the days of LinkedIn, so I definitely worked the phones and basic email after networking events. I have heard somewhere that “the fortune is in the follow-up”, which is so true! I made sure to follow-up with each contact, as you never know when you’re going to need to call on them again.

Nowadays, networking is second nature to me. Whether it’s in line at the local coffee shop, in a conference, through social media, or at the playground while hanging out with other moms! I met a contact while in Paris in a Canadian bar during the Canucks playoff run in 2011 at 4 a.m.! We still keep in touch to this day!

Q: What does networking look like in your world? What are some of your top tips for successfully networking in this city?

Networking in my world is something I do every day. It’s become second nature to me so I don’t even think about it anymore. As my time is limited with a lot of other commitments (business and personal), I try to maximize the networking opportunities I have. There’s definitely a strategy in place–I don t go to just any event, or meet up with people for coffee without a goal or possibility of working together. It might not happen right away, but at least the seed has been planted. I’m also a great connector, it’s definitely from my employment branding recruiting days! One of my business partners, Cindy (Sip & Shop YVR), and I always joke about how we’re business matchmakers. But, it s true! When you see potential in two businesses and see the collaboration potential, you have to introduce them.

If I have to pick a Top Three:

  1. Always follow-up/add on LinkedIn
  2. Have a great “leave behind”, whether this is your business card or something on social media (a Tweet, if appropriate)
  3. Be seen, be heard, be remembered; but in a professional way!

Q: What advice do you have for the Vancouver woman who is just starting out in her career or considering a leap to a new career?

For women starting out in their career, I would say to really think about what you want in your career and what will motivate you each and every day to do the best work possible. Then the next step is to ask for it! Similar to asking for the sale, you have to actually ask for what you want, or at least state what you want. You have to find ways to make it happen and not be afraid to be honest with yourself, to actually live the life you deserve. Trust me, you’re not being high maintenance, you are being smart and not devaluing yourself. Also, find ways to diversify the career tracks available to you to avoid complacency. After all, you’re working with the company not marrying it!

For someone who’s looking to leap into a new career, I’m going to go with the old Nike saying, “Just do it!”. There s never going to be a perfect time, a perfect place in your life, or perfection in general. You have to try it to see how you can grow it and live it, so dip your toe in, or jump in with both feet. No matter what the action is, the important thing is to have real action towards your goal because the time will pass anyway, so you might as well start now.

Wow, what a world of information, and such great advice! We’re feeling inspired over here! Anyone would be lucky to have Grace as a mentor, just to show them the ropes of networking.

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