Networking – beyond the dictionary definition
1999 - Three weary travelers arrive at the Toronto’s Pearson airport after a horrendously long journey, exhausted and jetlagged. The first impression of Canada: far away, far from our families, friends and old lives; dismayed when we met an impossibly rude immigration officer wearing thick glasses, who declined our help with the spelling of our family name as he copied it down from the passports into his records.
A lady, whom I worked with for a short time back home and that had immigrated to Canada a few years ahead of us, had sent her husband to meet us at the airport and drive us to a “bed and breakfast” in one of the most expensive Torontonian neighbourhoods: The Beaches. The room had been booked by another acquaintance, a Canadian whom I had worked with at Price Waterhouse Coopers. He did not realise that for a newcomer, paying $65 per day would be exorbitant when he booked it, but these two people were our “Canadian connection”, basically our “network”.
As years went by, we met people through work, social events and acquaintances. We thought we were building a network of people that would help us understand how “things worked” in Canada and how to find a job, but one by one, our network kept disintegrating because people were having different priorities: new family members that needed more attention than a stranger, better jobs, different political orientations or for no reason at all and here we are: 22 years and 20 “jobs” later, our network is still struggling to grow.
2020 - The COVID crisis. A crisis like no other in the history of humanity. Having lived most of our lives in a communist country where human interaction was only allowed under strict political supervision, we never imagined we will have to once again “socially” and “physically” keep the distance. What was left of our network was quickly disappearing under the pressure of keeping ourselves safe, healthy and well.
But then, a CTV news report caught our attention: movie drive-in. In the middle of “socially” distancing we could still enjoy a movie with others. Some genius’ idea of bringing people together, while keeping the distance.
Long story short: that is how I became a Rotary Centennial Member. A few months later after the movie drive-in event and after having to wake up at the wee hours of the morning to join into the friendly banter of a group of new friends and what is now my new network, I feel optimistic that no matter how long this crisis will last, my new, soon to become old friends, will be there for me, supporting me and my family so that when the light at the end of the tunnel turns into the new normal, I get to meet them in the wee hours of the morning for coffee and Danish, for a new episode of the “friendly banter series”.
What better reason do you need to become a member of Rotary? Name one and I’ll swallow my Danish.