According to the Harvard Business School, 65 per cent to 85 per cent of all jobs are found through networking, a time-honored tradition that most people apply every day without knowing it. It’s simply interaction that allows us to pass information from one source to another. Sometimes we need information and sometimes we have information to pass on. The population of the world has just topped 7 billion, so why not build a team of people to help you with your job search? Welcome to Networking 101.
Instead, fear drives us to think that we should avoid walking into a room full of strangers, reject the idle chitchat about weather over appetizers and neglect the opportunity to meet new people. Why do we make excuses? Are we afraid of feeling out of place while developing a new skill in public? We can feel very small when we are standing alone in a busy room, but we need to change our perspective and practice this skill instead of neglecting it. Are you ready to play the networking game? It’s a simple game with very few rules, but is guaranteed to help you develop your communication skills, build your career and expand your social circles. Every other person in the room is there to meet new people, so what are you waiting for?
This article will focus on how networking in Canada can be instrumental in finding a job. We’ve gathered some simple tips to help you build a team of people to assist you with your job search. It’s amazing how helpful people can be, so don’t be shy about asking someone for assistance. To network successfully, you need strong communication skills and a willingness to engage with others. We propose that you prioritize networking your way to success over applying online for jobs with the rest of the herd.
The focus of networking in Canada is communicating your value to others. To do so, you need to understand your strengths and weaknesses well. A few questions to help you understand the value you bring:
What are your main strengths? This can relate to your personality or your technical/soft skills.
What makes you different? It’s important to understand what makes you unique.
What are your goals?
When you meet a complete stranger, you will typically engage in conversation over trivial issues like the food, the weather, the event, etc. Be prepared to answer the question “So what brings you here?” This is your cue to communicate your value. The phrase comes from the idea that you should be able to communicate your message to a stranger over the time span of a typical elevator ride. Grab a pen and paper and formulate your sales pitch. Practice makes perfect. Ensure you practice aloud to woo strangers.
20 seconds is typically ideal to cover who you are, what you do and where you would like to be. For example: ‘My name is John Atkins, I’m a Civil Engineer with two years’ experience on transportation projects and I have just arrived here from Australia. I love it here so far and I’m really excited about growing my career in Canada.’
Ensure you include how people can help you. If you don’t ask, then you don’t get! For example: “I’m looking to connect with other engineers, particularly those who work on bridges.” Business Network International (BNI) invites attendees to ask “who do you know that . . .?”
Where to start?
It’s always easier to network with people who share common interests. Check out Meetup.com and find an upcoming event of interest to you. Set yourself a realistic and achievable goal. For example, make five useful contacts and meet two of them for coffee within the next week.
Tips for Networking Events
- Print off business cards – This step is crucial, as fumbling with your phone is not professional. It’s very easy to have business cards made up cheaply.
- Dress to impress – Take note of the dress code and ensure you dress smart.
- Arrive early – Make life easy for yourself by turning up on time and getting in position to observe how people interact in the room.
- Body language – Always offer a firm handshake, coupled with a warm smile and eye contact. Maintain eye contact while chatting with someone.
- Push yourself outside your comfort zone – Don’t be afraid to mingle and interact with people.
- Names – Always repeat a person’s name aloud. If you can associate his or her name with a spelling, someone you know with the same name, or anything else trivial you are way more likely to remember it.
- Ask questions – The art of successful networking is to engage the other person. “Who?”, “What?”, “Where?”, “When?” and “Why?” become your friends.
- Listen – Our temptation is always to be heard, but take the time to listen more at events and you will make stronger connections.
- Be disciplined with your time – Set an amount of time to spend with people. Some people are happy to make 2-3 connections at an event, while others like to connect rapidly with everyone. Decide on a pace that suits you.
- Embrace the opportunity to introduce yourself to the crowd – Speaking in front of a crowd is simply a habit. If you always avoid it, your fear will grow. Conquer this fear, as the opportunity to communicate your value to a crowd of people at the same time is priceless.
- Be proactive – If you have a good conversation with someone, don’t be afraid to offer your card and ask for theirs. Inquire if they would be open to meeting for a coffee/lunch to follow on your conversation.
- Introductions – Try to bring others into conversation and connect people with common interests. Wouldn’t you like if someone did the same for you?
- Follow up – This is crucial. Ensure you email/call within a few days while the connection is fresh in your mind, as well as theirs. LinkedIn can be a useful tool for this.
Ensure you create a list of contacts that you have built up and try to keep them all updated on your job search with positive messages each week. This step is really important, as it’s crucial to keep yourself in their mind.
Not all networking is about physical meetings. Some people feel more comfortable networking by telephone or email. It’s always more difficult to get someone’s attention by email, so we encourage people to use telephone or meet in person where possible. When you do need to use email, don’t be afraid to follow up as people are busy and it’s important to show people you’re keen to get their help.
LinkedIn is a fantastic tool for researching companies, individuals and relationships, so ensure you avail of this free tool.
Networking events in Canada are a fantastic way to make new friends and business contacts. Moving a new city can be a very daunting task for many people. Whether you come by yourself, or with friends, it’s important to get out and interact. This comes naturally to some, but for other they may need to find new friends through activities or formal networking events.
Networking Events in Canada
We have listed some other useful sites below:
MeetUp.com — Very popular amongst newcomers to Canada, this organization allows people to meet like-minded people across a range of professions, interests and activities from hiking, photography, sports, etc. Check out their website to browse your city and local meetups!
Networking Events in Vancouver
NetworkingInVan — Aggregates networking events of all kinds across the city.
LatinCouver — An organization for Latin Americans, and Latin enthusiasts living in Vancouver, to strengthen and celebrate the richness of our cultures. They organize business networking events, an annual festival and various other events each year.
Vancouver Irish Business & Enterprise (VIBE) — They organize a breakfast event every month open to all, and also host guest speakers and other networking events for Irish community.
Irish Women’s Network of BC — This organization holds networking events for Irish community periodically throughout the year. To get in touch with this organization you can join their Facebook group or else contact them via their website.
Join our Moving2Canada Facebook page to keep up to date.