When networking can lead to more than you expect

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Pradip Rodrigues

Toronto, March 11 (CINEWS): While first-generation immigrants form cultural associations and social groups to stave off loneliness and keep culture and traditions alive, young South Asian professionals belonging to the second-generation form associations based on professional interests and understand the need to network productively. Associations made up of first-generation immigrants, tend to have people sharing a similar language, culture and heritage, organizations like SAPNA reflect the vibrancy, diversity and forward-thinking of the next generation.
We’d like you to meet Bobby Dhillon, the man behind SAPNA Toronto.

MPP Jagmeet Singh attends a SAPNA Toronto event held recently

When was SAPNA Toronto born and how are you different from the other networking groups out there?
SAPNA Toronto was founded in 2013 and is made as a platform which helps South Asians unite on a professional and social scale. What makes SAPNA Toronto different is the level of diversity that exists in each particular event. For example, our events could vary from being a networking mixer event, a panel based discussion or a banquet which provides spotlight on the community. Other areas on what makes this organization different are the extensive use of social media to further connect with the community.

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Why do South Asians need a networking platform?
There are several great organizations out there; we don’t want to consider ourselves a group who competes, but a group who works with other organizations to help strengthen the South Asian professional identity. We feel that the best way to grow a network is to share a network. In addition, a large reason why South Asians need a networking platform is to not only create professional relationships, but to learn more about other dynamic cultures in the community.

How often do you meet
The committee members meet at least once a month either in person or though conference calls.

There is debate about having your next meet up in Mississauga, what are some reservations being expressed about moving it away from the business core of Toronto?
We wouldn’t say there are reservations, we are always happy to broaden the reach throughout the Greater Toronto Area. We were asked several times to hold an event in Mississauga, and we most likely will in the near future. In the meantime, we tend to focus on where the dominant professional market is while hosting an event in a timely fashion.

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How important is networking to success in the workplace?
It’s extremely important. So much can be developed with networking when applying that to the workplace. For example, the more you network, the more interpersonal skills can be developed to help one improve cognitive skills in the environment. Other areas could be public speaking to improve meetings in the workforce to help professionals set critical objectives. Lastly, when you’re building connections, you’re also building resources which can help you hire the right vendors and sell your services outside your existing networks.

I understand that besides job opportunities, the mingling may also at times lead to romantic leads? This is always a good incentive, no?
Of course it’s a great incentive. Although we cater to the professional market, having a platform where one can comfortably meet people can certainly build romantic connections. SAPNA Toronto does not object to this, as long as individuals are being respectful, it’s totally fine by us. We were fortunate to have people meet their spouse at our events. That’s a big success story in our books.

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