In Canada, networking is an important part of creating and building business relationships and finding work. Building a network of people, both personally and professionally, can help you find meaningful work that suits your current skills.
Networking does not necessarily directly lead to a job, but it can help you:
While networking can seem intimidating, especially in a new country, it is more than just going to formal business events to meet new people. And it doesn’t mean you have to ask everyone you meet to help you find a job. Networking can be a friendly conversation where you chat about your life and experiences. It can also be a formal meeting where you ask someone with related experience for advice about an industry and referrals to potential work.
The opportunities for networking can be endless and overwhelming. It is good to invest time in making new connections, but it is also important to have a plan. Consider the best events, activities, and organizations that will best help you meet your goals. While formal networking events are common, networking can be:
The best way to build a strong network of people in Canada is to build relationships. Don’t focus on how a new person can help you reach your goals. Instead connect with people who share common interests, skills, and values. These relationships build a lasting network that may help you in the short term but more importantly, they can help you create long term connections that improve your personal and professional life in Canada.
Want to Know More? Learn some Canadian Networking Tips.
The best way to build a strong network of people in Canada is to build relationships. Connect with people who share common interests, skills, and values.
Every one of us already has a network of people: family, friends, people from your neighbourhood or community groups. The challenge of moving to a new place is that the network is very small, but it is still a place to start. Using informal networking can feel less overwhelming the formal networking so it can be a good place to start but it is also a vitally important part of building your network. It can build connections that improve your personal life as much as your professional life.
Your informal network can be more active than just talking to people you know. You can use volunteering and social activities to intentionally seek out people who may be able to help you personally or professionally.
While volunteering will not put a paycheck in your pocket, it can be a great place to grow your network. Whether you volunteer at an organization that is related to your field, or that supports the community more generally, you will meet a diverse range of people. Volunteering often draws people from many backgrounds and experiences which makes it a great place to network informally. Your volunteering experience also adds Canadian experience to your resume.
Whether it is a class, a hobby group, sports team, cultural group, religious organization, or any organized social activities will put you into contact with new people. Even if it doesn’t relate to your industry, it can still benefit your job search and social life to build new connections who may have ideas and referrals that can help you.
It is comfortable to socialize and talk with people who speak the same language or are part of the same cultural group. But using social situations to meet new people, can be a good time to practice your English and informal situations can have less pressure than formal networking events. Events outside of your immediate community push you to extend your network further which can benefit your professional network and help you find new job opportunities.
In Canada, you can be direct about talking to people in your personal network about your job search. It is fine to let people you know personally that you are looking for work and open to getting their advice or leads about where to look. While you want to be informal and not pressure your connections to help, they care about your success and are often happy to help if they can.
Want to know more? Read about informal networking and other forms of networking for employment: Networking for Employment
Formal networking can take several forms: going to professional events, joining professional associations, and requesting informational interviews. These are intentional, business-related networking events that can help you build a professional community.
Keep relationship building in mind when you go to a networking event. Spend time listening to people you meet and learning about who they are and what they do. Look for people who you have things in common with, either professional or personal. It is better to make one or two deeper connections that briefly meet 20 people at an event. These connections will help you build a last professional network that will help you with your current job search and throughout your professional career.
You don’t need to go to every networking event in your area or your industry. Look for events that relate to your industry or profession or events. Do your research on the event to see the kinds of people and industries it attracts to choose the ones best suited to you. If you go to an event and it didn’t provide connections that were valuable to your job search, try a different event or group. Carefully choosing the events you attend, will save you time.
Want to know more? Start building your professional network: Mentor Advice Networking is Just Another Word for Building Relationships that Last
Many industries and professions have professional associations, social groups, or unions. These associations may have formal memberships or provide open events to draw together people with similar interests and skills. There may be training or conferences that can connect you to your professional network and enhance your skills. Joining these associations or volunteering with them can put you into contact with potential employers and colleagues.
Connect. Use this site to search for professional associations related to your job search: Industry and Professional Associations and Unions
You’ve probably heard a lot about your “elevator pitch.” This refers to a quick description of who you are and what you do in the 30 to 60 seconds it takes to travel a few floors in an elevator with someone. Having an elevator pitch ready for formal networking is a great way to be prepared for the “So what do you do?” question. It is an easy way to introduce yourself in a professional situation and get a conversation started.
There is no particular format for an elevator pitch. Just make it accurate, and if possible, add something that reflects who you are. It can be helpful to write something down and even practice it before you go to an event. Keep your pitch simple when you start, then you change it as you get more comfortable with networking and see what catches people’s attention best.
Want to know more? Learn how to prepare your elevator pitch: The 30 Second Elevator Pitch
An informational interview is a meeting with someone who has experience or expertise in an area you want to learn about. People are often willing to spend with you so you can ask questions, get advice, and gain insight into a particular industry, job, or company. These people may be able to guide you to jobs in the “hidden job market” that aren’t advertised publicly or posted online sites. The goal of an informational interview is not to get a job or discuss a specific position. The goal is to learn and to get to know someone who might be beneficial to your professional network.
Want to know more? Learn how to prepare for an informational interview: Information Interviews
After a networking event, it is a good practice to follow up with any people who you really connected with and would be interested in talking with more. Often people will follow up with an email or short phone call within a day or two after the event. If there is someone you are interested in talking with more, you could arrange to meet for a coffee or an informational interview. You don’t have to follow up with every person you talked to or who gave you a business card. Choose the people who you best connected to or who said they were able to help you in your job search.
Want to know more? Learn more about networking in Canadian workplaces: Job Search Networking Like a Canadian Pro
Nothing can replace meeting someone in person but doing online networking can help you determine the in-person events, organizations, and connections that are best suited to your job search. LinkedIn is the most common social network for professional connections. Follow people and companies related to your industry and look for events.
Search both LinkedIn and Facebook for professional groups. General industry groups can be useful for research and job postings, but local chapter groups are best for connecting you to people and events in your area. Join in discussions, like and comment on posts, and introduce yourself to people online so when you go to local events, you may already have connections to people there.
Create your professional profile on LinkedIn and other social media. If you use social media for personal reasons, just keep the settings private or be conscious of the personal information that you share publicly.
When you apply to a new company, it never hurts to scour your social media friends’ lists and see if anyone works there - or if anyone knows someone who works there. Sites like LinkedIn are especially great for this because you can see the contacts of contacts and what positions
Want to know more? Find out how to network online: How to Network in the Digital Age