Networking in Canada: How to get started
Think back to when you bought your first car or made some other significant purchase. What made you feel confident about your decision to invest your savings? Did the salesperson seem credible and trustworthy? As an immigrant professional preparing to enter the Canadian workforce, it is vital to establish trust and credibility and to build positive relationships with other professionals and leaders in your industry. Networking is the pathway to accomplishing these goals.
You can start networking in Canada by challenging yourself to meet new people and form new professional relationships.
These three steps can help you to begin networking right away:
- Stay current on trends within your specific industry by attending a conference or professional development event where you can interact with other professionals.
- Give back through volunteering at community events. You will get to meet your neighbours and others in your community, and you never know what connections they might have.
- Reach out to successful immigrants with similar backgrounds who have found employment in their field. Ask for an informational interview and explore how they achieved success.
Whenever you meet someone new—whether at an interview or conference, while shopping or at a community event—you have an opportunity to introduce yourself as a professional. You can prepare by practicing a short (30-60 seconds) professional introduction that highlights your background and relevant career accomplishments.
It’s important to balance talking about your professional background with curiosity about other people’s professional experiences. In the book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie writes that remembering someone’s name and showing genuine interest in others are effective tools for building professional relationships. Prepare by having a few questions that encourage people to talk about themselves. For example: “What inspired you to work in this field?” or “What do you enjoy most about your job?”
Positive body language goes a long way towards creating a comfortable environment that encourages conversation. When meeting someone for the first time, remember SOFTEN:
- Open Posture
- Forward Lean
- Touch (professional handshake)
- Eye Contact
When you talk positively with family and friends about the good service you’ve received at a restaurant or place of business, you inspire them to try out that restaurant or service. In the same way, when you network effectively, other professionals will become interested in the value you can bring to the workplace.
This can lead to referrals and job opportunities within the hidden job market, strong employment references, and new connections within your industry.
* This article was published first by Filipino Journal and has been republished with permission.
Jonathan Bauer is the Manager of Career Services at Manitoba Start. Manitoba Start connects business to a world-class workforce and supports newcomers with free career development and job matching services to achieve their professional goals and long-term career success in Canada.