In Jenny Konkin’s own words:
From a very early age, I knew that helping people in need was what I was called to do. I am grateful to have parents who instilled the value of giving back and caring for those who are forgotten, lonely, and hurting. I have had the opportunity to volunteer with at-risk youth in inner-cities around the world, speak in juvenile detention centers, volunteer in orphanages in Mexico and Uganda, and receive my degree in psychology from SFU. Since 2010, I have worked in Vancouver’s downtown East Side. My brother Josh and I co-founded Whole Way House, a Vancouver-based charitable society, in 2013. I believe that every person has a story and I would like to get to know theirs.
Learn more about Jenny’s organization, Whole Way House, in the video story below.
To discover a little bit more about what makes Jenny tic, we asked her our main questions on networking, how it applies to her role in a non-profit, and how it has made her endeavor so successful.
Q: How and where did you form your most significant contacts? How have these changed over time?
My most significant contacts have been people who were already in my life, though not necessarily the people I thought they would be. I have been touched by all of the amazing support we received from acquaintances or people that we knew in the past. When the time came to get things going, random people from my life began to reach out and connect me with other people or donate or offer their help. It was really amazing to see how old friends from high school, former colleagues, or even friends of my parents and my family started to come out and support us. Some of my most unexpected connections were people that I became friends with when they were in lower positions in their jobs and have since moved up to a position where they could help with donations or funding. But our biggest form of support has come from our contacts at Coastal Church. They have a vision to help (HELPS – Make the City a Better Place), and this has been the case for us. From the pastors, to the interns, to the congregation – they have really come together to offer their support. We’ve seen people join our cause because of the awareness that was brought to them by the church and we have been so thankful for that.
Q: What does networking look like in your world? What are some of your top tips for successfully networking in this city?
In the non-profit world, networking is essential as we rely on the support of the community. I am grateful for friends, family, church family, colleagues who introduce me to people who they think would be excited about what we are doing at Whole Way House. I attend events where there are like-minded people that I can meet and connect with. But to be honest, I find that a lot of my networking happens naturally, as I do what I do, go the places I go, I keep my head up, look people in the eye and talk with them. I do my best to engage wherever I go, whether I’m grabbing a coffee, running into the bank, or purchasing something at the store. People become your connections. I don’t do this with an agenda, but I have found that these are the people who end up helping us out – through the natural and organic connections I have made. Don’t underestimate being friendly and saying hello and chatting with people. Not only will you brighten up their day a little, but you will make so many more connections this 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?
Know your vision in your heart, write it out and make it very clear so that you will not stray from it. (At some point you will be tempted to go another way.) Surround yourself with people who are FOR YOU and will encourage you when it gets rough (and believe me, it will get rough)! Don’t be competitive – be collaborative. Make as many friends as possible. Be kind and friendly and outgoing, people want to work with people they like. Build a reputation as someone who has integrity. Do things the right way, even when it’s harder or takes longer, it’ll be worth it in the end. Integrity builds trust, and trust – as my pastor teaches – can only be built when you dig deep to build high. The foundation often takes the longest to lay but, without it, everything will crumble eventually.
If you are trying to do something awesome or different or risky, get ready for criticism. Be open to feedback but don’t take other’s opinions personally; if everyone knew how to do it better than you, then they’d be doing it themselves! Look to others who are successful in your area of work and seek their advice. What are they doing well or not well? What do you admire about them? As much as we like to think we know everything and our way is the best way, there are often many who have walked this path before and have made mistakes that you don’t have to make; and they will have had successes that you can follow. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for advice and help – most people are flattered when you ask them how they became successful and love to share. And, most of all, do things with integrity (don’t cut corners). Stay humble and be grateful. Be confident, but know that you are blessed. Be thankful that you have the opportunity to live in a city and a country where you are free to start a business, where you have the opportunity to be successful. More than 90% of the women in the world can’t say the same.
After reading Jenny’s story, don’t you feel like going out and conquering the world? Us too!
Discover and connect with more amazing women like Jenny on Elletourage. Find a mentor or mentee, connect with peers, or feel free to just socialize!