For newcomers to Canada, networking is a highly effective way to start a job search and meet professionals who can introduce you to new opportunities. A large percentage of jobs are not advertised, which means that who you know can lead to a number of jobs with employers that are hiring.
Networking helps you expand your possibilities and increase the number of individuals, associations, groups, and professional contacts that you are connected to. This, in turn, allows you to leverage these connections to assist you with your job search and future career. Networking is also an effective tool for learning about the employment sector, your potential job, and any other information that you may need for your job search.
It is important to establish clear goals when you engage in any networking opportunity. Asking for a job directly may not be the most effective way to build your network. Rather, the goal for networking is to meet the right individuals and to gather as much information as possible around what they know and how they can help you.
Here are five strategies to start your professional networking activities:
- Start by making a list of the people you know. This list is a starting point for your networking activities. It is often your informal network (friends, family, and social acquaintances) that will get you started with meeting the right individuals. Don’t forget to follow-up with new contacts right away or to ask for introductions to additional individuals through your current network.
- Create a plan that sets out a calendar for potential networking activities and opportunities. The plan should also include time for preparing questions, creating marketing tools (like a business card or your 30-second pitch), and researching the individuals and companies that you may be meeting with.
- Get past the fear of networking. It is a normal reaction to be nervous about meeting new people and asking for their assistance. You can get past your nervousness by ensuring that you are prepared for the opportunity. Be prepared for rejection. For every new connection that you make, keep in mind that there will likely be many less successful attempts at networking. When networking in a professional setting, rejection or disinterest should not be taken personally.
- Schedule informational interviews. Most individuals are willing and interested in helping provided they are given enough notice and time to prepare. By scheduling informational interviews with individuals who can help, you are respecting their time and getting the most out of the opportunity by preparing and researching in advance.
- Start to grow your network online. Social media is a highly effective way of meeting new individuals that can help with your job search. LinkedIn provides an effective tool for identifying professionals in your field and the connections in your network who can help to make an introduction.
Networking Opportunities with ACCES Employment
It was a tough decision for Maha Al Amin to leave a successful career back in Qatar and come to Canada. But she knew what was waiting for her: a place where she would feel welcomed. “Canada is one of the few places in the world where you are seen as a new Canadian, not an immigrant,” notes Maha.
Maha came to ACCES Employment to look for help with achieving her professional goals in Canada. When she completed the Human Resources Connections program, Maha had the opportunity to attend Speed Mentoring® sessions with several of the major banks in Canada. The Speed Mentoring program at ACCES allows individuals to network with professionals in their field, receive advice about their job search, and often, meet the right individual who can open up hiring and job opportunities. The program organizes over 75 events each year in various sectors.
With a background in both finance and HR, Maha was interested in connecting with HR professionals in the financial industry in Canada. “I had many opportunities to attend Speed Mentoring events at ACCES. Through these events, I received several job offers to choose from,” says Maha, who is now a Senior Manager Talent Strategies at BMO Financial Group. ACCES Employment is a sector leader in providing employment services to jobseekers across Ontario and in Canada. Its network of over 1,000 employers helps to establish new connections for newcomers, helping individuals to find jobs in their field of expertise in roles that reflect their experience.
Visit www.accesemployment.ca to learn more about how to start a job search as a newcomer to Canada.
Click here to view our Professional Networking for Skilled Immigrants webinar.