The TRU Modern Marketing Association held the third annual Business Gala last Friday, providing an opportunity for students to converse with local business professionals in a formal setting. Levi Dunn, co-president of the club, hoped to allow networking to foster between the two communities.
“We think it’s really important to bring the students to the community and the community to the students, so we spent quite a bit of time going and meeting business owners in town and getting to know them,” he said. “There’s much work behind finding out how we can make them [business owners] benefit from what we’re doing, so it’s really about finding what everybody wants and how we can deliver that to make everybody come together and enjoy this event.”
In addition to providing a networking opportunity, the event was also raising funds (through 50/50 raffle tickets and a silent auction) towards a digital studio on campus. The event included virtual reality sets and a photo booth, painting a picture of what the studio could entail if made a reality. Tatiana Gilbert, co-founder of the association, shared the group’s vision for the creative space.
“There is no hub or space on campus where students can come together and create, and that is what we’re trying to fundraise for in this event today; we would like to see a digital studio created on campus,” Gilbert said. “When that will happen, we don’t know, but we would like to get it started and get that ball rolling so we can all be as students, authors in our own education through creativity.”
Dunn adds that most of the proceeds will go towards the studio and some of it will be saved for next year’s gala.
“Most of the proceeds will be going to the digital space, we’re going to retain a small amount for next year because this is such an expensive event and it took us quite a long time to get all of our sponsors this year,” he said.
The evening also featured guest speakers including global search engine optimization (SEO) expert Chris Raulf and TRU marketing professor Julio Viskovich to share their professional development and what they’ve acquired along the way. Viskovich was one of the early employees of Hootsuite who initially brought up the social media managing platform to where it is today. Through his time working for the start-up as a sales and global social media trainer, he was contacted by major corporations to implement social media strategies for them.
“I then got a chance to work with IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, with all of the major companies on how they should implement social media into their everyday working schedule,” he said. “As a result of that, by the age 32, I was named by Forbes magazine as one of the top 30 social sales influencers.”
With a new pool of students arriving every year, it can be a challenge to manage a new group of team members. Levi Dunn adds how the club is always open to new students who want to be actively involved.
“We are always open to having new people, they kind of self-decide if they want to be involved or not. We invite anybody who’s interested into our weekly meetings and some people are a little bit scared of the idea, it seems like too much or they are just not into it and leave,” he said. “Some people’s eyes widen and say, ‘No way that’s amazing, how can I be a part of it,’ those usually stick around, so it’s just a matter of finding people who are interested in it and want to be involved.”