Advice

Style Scout host Shayne Stephens has mastered the art of connecting with people.

Here’s the Secret to Networking, According to a Guy Who Knows Everybody

Shayne Stephens throws around the word “authenticity” a lot. He believes it’s something we’re seeing less and less these days. “I’m a kid that’s from Winnipeg. I’m rough around the edges,” he says. “I am who I am. I say what I say and that’s fine with me.” That’s Stephens’ brand of authenticity and it’s taken him pretty far—from a hockey-playing punk in the ’Peg, through the world of publishing and into fashion, where as Marketing Director, he successfully brought Saks into Canada. Now, he’s bringing that Bourdainian authenticity, infused with his ideology of kindness, all around the world.

That’s thanks to Style Scout, an online show (at least for now) from ET Canada that has Stephens trying local foods, staying in dope hotels, and generally finding what’s cool about the cities of the world. “Basically, I get to travel. Each place we go, it’s like a loose interpretation of style. It may be music in one place, and design or fashion in another,” he explains. It’s pretty much the perfect gig for a guy like him, who can talk to anyone and leave them feeling like they just met their new best friend.

“My dad always used to laugh and say be kind to everyone because you never know who’s going to be sitting across a desk from you,” says Stephens. To hear him talk, the key to getting somewhere in life is just being yourself and not being an asshole. Is it that simple? You really just have to listen to people?

If that’s the case, then we’ll start by listening to Stephens. He seems to know what’s up. Or at least, he definitely knows someone who knows someone who does.

TITLE: So, you’re basically a networking expert.

SHAYNE STEPHENS: I don’t know if I would consider myself an expert, but I’m not going to lie, it’s been integral for my success. I’m a lot more authentic, I think, in the way that I go about networking. Not a lot of business gets done with people you don’t particularly get along with. There needs to be chemistry and the connection needs to be authentic in order for there to be the next step. It’s something that everybody that knows me would say that I’m extremely good at. You have to portray yourself as who you are because it’s clear pretty quickly when people are just looking for something and using other people to get it.

Is there some formula, or does networking fall under that right place, right time, right person kind of moment.

You can strategize to hopefully be in the right place at the right time. I think it’s more strategic on the part of the person that’s trying to do the networking. If you’re looking to break into an industry, then you should attend as many industry-related events as possible.1

How do I insert myself into these places?

It’s about being kind and friendly. I come from the fashion world and there’s a ton of events, so I would go to any event that I possibly could, to get my face out there. I wouldn’t be able to tell you where someone who wants to move up the construction ladder should go but I can guarantee there are some type of events, there are types of associations, there are some kinds of company groups that are available. I feel like if you have any charisma and smarts about you, you can network in all parts of your daily life.

In the past networking was about being face-to-face and now, like everything else, it’s over social media. 

Social media definitely provides an amazing resource for research. You can understand the person a little bit better, but I believe a hundred percent in face-to-face. It gives you the full picture. People are charismatic or they’re not. They’re awkward or they’re comfortable. They’re put together or they’re not put together. You can only tell those things in person.

Definitely do not be over-complimentary. I find that especially in fashion everyone is like, “Oh my god, you look so amazing” and the person is fucking wearing a garbage bag. It boils down to a lot of “fakeness.” Be yourself. Sometimes those little things that we don’t want to show to people are actually the things that bind us.

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1. Or, you can be Emily Blunt and get your breakthrough role in The Devil Wears Prada by being discovered in a parking lot.