Networking in Canada
Your network in Canada is a key resource to securing employment.However not everyone has the luxury of having a network before arriving in the country—making networking a crucial skill in the job hunt. Discover effective strategies to network with Canadian employers, businesses and other professionals in your field. This guide empowers newcomers with practical networking tips to build professional relationships and enhance career prospects in Canada
Table of Contents
- What is networking and why is it important in Canada?
- What is Canadian business culture and etiquette?
- How do I make the first contact with Canadian employers?
- How can I build and maintain professional relationships?
- What are some networking channels and opportunities?
- How can I use social media, particularly LinkedIn, for networking?
- What should I know about job fairs (and similar events) in Canada?
- What additional resources are available for effective networking?
- Contact CanadaVisa and Cohen Immigration Law for Assistance
This guide is designed to equip newcomers with the knowledge and skills to successfully network in Canada. You'll learn about the importance of networking, various networking channels, and Canadian business culture, and etiquette. We'll also provide practical tips for making valuable connections, leveraging social media platforms like LinkedIn, and utilising networking events to enhance your career prospects and job search in Canada.
For more information on finding and securing employment in Canada, visit our dedicated webpage here.
What is networking and why is it important in Canada?
Networking involves the sharing of information and ideas among individuals who share a common profession or special interest, typically in a casual social setting. The process of networking commonly initiates from a shared point of common interest.
Professionals utilise networking as a means to broaden their connections (or network), discover potential job prospects within their industries, and stay updated on news and trends in their respective fields or the wider world.
Having a strong network is crucial for performing your job effectively and gaining access to employment opportunities that may not be publicly advertised. It is estimated that a majority of job openings are never made known to the general public. This highlights the importance of networking in order to tap into these hidden job prospects. Building a network might seem overwhelming, especially if you are new to Canada. However, there are several suggestions that can guide you in the right direction and help you establish and maintain a solid network. By having a strong network, you can greatly enhance your chances of success in the job market.
What is Canadian business culture and etiquette around networking?
While much of business culture will is straightforward and likely similar to business cultures in other parts of the world, there are some subtleties to networking that newcomers may want to observe when doing so in Canada.
It is generally advisable to:
- Create a LinkedIn Profile: Start by creating an online professional profile, such as on LinkedIn, which is widely used in Canada. Showcase your work experience, interests, and skills to facilitate easy connections with new contacts and access job opportunities posted by recruiters.
- Set up coffee chats: Instead of getting lost in larger group settings, arrange one-on-one coffee chats with professionals in your field. Come prepared with questions and discussion points, such as differences in industry operations between Canada and your home country, ideal entry points for careers, and tips for success in the industry.
- Follow up promptly: After making a new connection, reconnect quickly to ensure they remember you. Send an email within 24 hours, reminding them of how you met or were connected. If there were plans to meet again, mention it in your follow-up.
- Shake hands and be polite: Make a strong first impression by shaking hands firmly and maintaining eye contact when introducing yourself and saying goodbye. In Canada, this demonstrates confidence and respect. However, if shaking hands is not preferred for cultural reasons, it is acceptable. Additionally, practice good manners by using "please" and "thank you," actively listening without interrupting, refraining from offensive language, and introducing yourself by name when meeting new people.
- Volunteer: Engage in volunteer work related to your field of interest to meet professionals in their work environment. Volunteering at places like hospitals or cultural festivals can connect you with industry insiders and highlight practical experience on your resume.
- Find a professional association: Join a professional association in your industry or field to participate in discussions on industry advancements and network with like-minded individuals. The Professional Immigrant Network (PIN) program is a helpful resource for finding relevant professional associations.
- Improve your language skills: Enhance your English and French language skills as effective communication plays a vital role in networking. Using free language classes provided by the Canadian government or consider advanced courses offered by colleges and universities.
Conversely it is generally not advisable to:
- Assume automatic recognition: Although your international experience is valuable, don't assume it will be automatically recognised in Canada. Highlight your previous work experience during networking conversations to ensure it gets noticed. Research the company employing the person you're networking with and align your skills with their desired qualities.
- Wait to be approached: Be proactive in your networking efforts as a newcomer to Canada. Overcome shyness and approach people in your community to strengthen your network. Demonstrating initiative and leadership qualities can impress future employers.
- Interrupt while someone is speaking: Engage in meaningful discussions without interrupting others, as interrupting is seen as disrespectful in Canada. Patiently listening signals respect and interest in the speaker.
- Ask for a job directly; ask for advice instead: Treat your network as allies in your job search. Instead of directly asking for a job, seek advice and information about their industry experiences and how they found their current employment opportunities. This approach reduces pressure on the person and allows for valuable guidance.
- Remember mutual benefits: Consider professional relationships as mutually beneficial. While connections in your field can assist in job interviews, you also possess valuable information, connections, and skills from your home country that can benefit others in their careers.
How do I make the first contact with Canadian employers?
Making first contact is a critical part of your job search in Canada and can be doubly important for the opportunity to make a good first impression.
If attempting to contact an employer by email it is generally advisable to keep your emails concise, with an informative subject line, professional tone, using standard fonts and formatting. It is also suggested to email from a professional email account, and to use professional greetings and sign-offs.
If attempting to contact an employer in person, make sure to carry a copy of your resume and/or a business card, in case an opportune moment to distribute them should emerge. Again, general etiquette around networking (as discussed above) should be observed.
For both online and in-person contact, it can be beneficial to develop both an elevator pitch about yourself, and some sample work to show to your potential employer. While neither of these are strictly necessary, they can be extremely beneficial in making your communication effective, and helping you stand out as a candidate.
An elevator pitch is a simple (generally 60-second long) introduction to oneself, that is usually used to answer the question “why would you be a good fit for this role/organisation?”. It is not advisable to make your elevator pitch overly about selling yourself—rather the point is to make clear in as simple and concise a way as possible, why you believe the role or organisation would be a good fit for you, and vice versa. Also consider the context that you are presenting your pitch in: if the person you are talking to simply wants to have a conversation, it is not advisable to launch into a monologue about yourself.
Sample work can be a simple but very effective way to distinguish yourself from the crowd and show a prospective employer that you are enthusiastic about the role and organization. If the role you are applying for requires regular deliverables, you could pre-prepare a sample to show, or attach to your first email. If the work you are doing is more abstract, you could provide an action plan or strategy that you think might be beneficial to the company.
How can I build and maintain professional relationships?
First, it is important to make deliberate decisions about the individuals you want to stay in touch with and how frequently you should reach out to them. Not every contact will be equally valuable to your professional growth, so prioritise those connections that align with your career goals and aspirations. By being selective, you can focus your time and energy on nurturing relationships that truly matter.
To effectively communicate and stay connected with your professional network, make use of various communication tools at your disposal. These can include email, phone calls, arranging coffee dates, attending social gatherings, and even sending handwritten notes. Each method has its own strengths and can be tailored to suit different situations and preferences. By diversifying your communication approach, you can engage with your contacts in meaningful ways that resonate with them.
Networking is not just about what you can gain from your connections but also about how you can help them. Actively seek opportunities to assist your contacts with their professional and personal challenges. Listen attentively to their needs and offer support or resources whenever possible. By demonstrating genuine care and providing assistance, you strengthen the bonds of trust and reciprocity within your network.
While social media platforms can be valuable tools for networking, it is important to use them strategically and avoid going overboard. Instead of relying solely on social media to maintain your professional connections, remember that face-to-face interactions and more personal forms of communication hold greater value. Social media can be used as a supplementary tool to stay connected, share relevant content, and engage in direct messages. However, it should not replace genuine human interaction and relationship-building efforts.
When interacting with your network, it is crucial to strike a balance between sharing your accomplishments and being modest. While it is important to keep your contacts informed about your professional successes, avoid coming across as overly boastful or self-promotional. Instead, focus on sharing information that provides value to others and contributes to meaningful conversations.
Lastly, it is not necessary to exhaust yourself by attempting to network with every person you have ever met. Maintaining a running list of relevant contacts and periodically auditing it can help you focus your efforts on building relationships with individuals who align with your professional goals. By concentrating on quality over quantity, you can invest your time and resources in nurturing connections that are most likely to be mutually beneficial.
What are some networking channels and opportunities?
- Breakfast or luncheon meetings: These events serve meals while participants have the chance to mingle and converse with others. There is usually a presentation or guest speaker, and time for networking and conversation before and after. Alternatively, break-out sessions may be included to work on projects or discuss important topics.
- Happy hour meetings: Happy hour events are planned after working hours, where professionals gather over drinks and appetizers. Like breakfast or luncheon meetings, they provide opportunities for networking and socialising. There may be a presentation or guest speaker, or it can be purely a social event. Often, a portion of a bar, lounge, or restaurant is rented to create a casual and low-pressure environment.
- Speed networking events: Speed networking allows individuals to meet several professionals one-on-one in rapid succession for a set period. It is similar to speed dating, where organizers pair people up to introduce themselves and exchange contact information. Specific conversational prompts or questions may be provided to facilitate conversation. This format allows meeting a significant number of people in a short time.
- Virtual networking groups: Virtual events are held online using video conferencing software, allowing attendees to virtually mingle and engage with each other. Participants often break out into various rooms for more personal conversations. Virtual networking groups can be found on social media platforms, industry forums, or networking sites. They may include training, presentations, Q&A sessions, and opportunities to chat with other participants through messaging.
- Community service groups: Although not specific networking events, participating in community service groups provides opportunities to expand connections. These groups are often non-profit organizations where volunteers and employees come together to discuss important local community issues. Volunteering not only contributes to a good cause but also creates lasting relationships.
- Roundtable discussions: Roundtable discussions bring small groups together to converse or debate specific topics respectfully. Participants share their ideas and insights while learning from others' perspectives. Typically, there is a specified format allowing each person at the table to share their thoughts within a certain period. Questions and open conversation often follow after hearing everyone's opinion.
- Workshops: Workshops are training seminars focused on specific topics, offering opportunities to learn new skills or improve existing abilities. They usually involve a presentation followed by a hands-on component to practice and implement new ideas. While working together during the workshop, participants have the chance to meet new people outside their professional circles, combining learning and connection.
- Industry seminars: Industry-specific seminars combine training and networking opportunities into one event. These seminars can focus on new products, services, technology, or trends. There is often time before, during, or after the seminar for attendees to mingle with each other while enjoying light refreshments. The common interest among participants facilitates communication during the networking sessions.
- Trade shows: Trade shows are industry or topic-specific events that offer various networking opportunities. They are usually held in large expo centers, where businesses and organizations set up booths related to their products or services. Attendees can walk through the show, stop at different booths, and engage in conversations with representatives. Trade shows provide an excellent platform for companies to meet potential customers face-to-face in an open environment.
- Conferences: Conferences typically include workshops, seminars, presentations, and keynote speakers for attendees to learn from. Many conferences host formal networking events such as happy hour meetings, breakfast events, or social gatherings. Individuals from local, provincial, or international locations attend conferences, offering diverse perspectives and opportunities to connect with professionals in similar fields.
- Career fairs: Career fairs primarily focus on matching companies with prospective employees, but they also provide great networking opportunities. Colleges and universities often organise career fairs, which can be found on their respective news and/or events webpages.
How can I use social media, particularly LinkedIn, for networking?
Using social media and LinkedIn for networking can be highly beneficial for new immigrants in Canada. A few keyways these platforms can be utilised include:
- Building a strong personal brand: Having an active social media presence, particularly on platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, allows immigrants to market themselves effectively to potential employers. It enables them to showcase their skills, qualifications, and expertise, making them more accessible to recruiters and hiring professionals. Additionally, they can also learn about companies, their values, culture, and day-to-day activities through social media channels;
- Social media as a tool for employment opportunities: Once newcomers establish a strong personal brand, social media can be utilised to find job opportunities. Research shows that those who use social media are more likely to be employed than those who rely solely on traditional media. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn enable newcomers to connect with potential employers, research companies, and learn about job openings. LinkedIn, in particular, allows individuals to ask questions, find career resources, and engage in professional conversations, ultimately helping them build relationships and explore job prospects; and
- Building a support network: Social media platforms provide opportunities for immigrants to connect with others in similar situations and form a support network. Facebook groups, including neighbourhood groups specific to immigrants' local communities, allow individuals to share information about community events and connect with locals, fostering new friendships and potential opportunities. Platforms like LinkedIn, Reddit, and discussion forums such as the CanadaVisa Forum also facilitate connections and discussions among newcomers.
What should I know about job fairs (and similar events) in Canada?
Attending a job fair provides job seekers with various advantages. Firstly, it allows individuals to conduct research on different careers and stay informed about the current trends in the labor market. By interacting directly with employers, job seekers can also make a positive impression through face-to-face conversations, effectively showcasing their skills and qualifications. Additionally, job fairs often offer the opportunity for job seekers to participate in interviews for available positions, enabling them to demonstrate their abilities and potentially secure job offers. Job fairs serve as valuable platforms for job seekers to gather information, connect with employers, and seize employment opportunities.
Below are some best practices newcomers can follow when attending job fairs in Canada:
Preparing for the Job Fair:
- Research the employers attending the fair, particularly those of interest to you.
- Seek one-on-one assistance and interview tips at relevant locations before the event.
- Bring multiple copies of your updated resume for each career choice, and consider carrying electronic versions on a USB stick.
- Practice a concise 30-second "sales pitch" about yourself, answering questions about your education, experience, skills, hobbies, reasons for wanting to work for the company, and why you are a suitable candidate.
- Dress professionally and maintain a neat appearance.
- Prepare for on-the-spot interviews and be ready to complete job applications during the fair.
- Review the list of employers beforehand and prioritise the ones you wish to visit.
At the Job Fair:
- Arrive early to the job fair and approach employers individually, rather than in groups.
- Make a positive first impression by remaining calm, displaying confidence, smiling, and shaking hands with employers.
- Avoid making negative comments about past employers or jobs.
- Take notes during conversations with employers and collect their business cards for future follow-up.
- Network with other job seekers to gain insights from their experiences.
After the Job Fair:
- Follow up with employers through phone calls or emails.
- Provide any additional information requested by employers in a timely manner.
- Ensure that your email address and voicemail greeting present a professional impression.
- Regularly visit employers' websites to stay informed about ongoing job opportunities.
What additional resources are available for effective networking?
In addition to the above resources, newcomers in Canada can also find employment help through free settlement services offered by the government s (municipal, provincial, or federal). Depending on where newcomers reside, and their current legal status in Canada, they may be able to avail resources like:
- Networking events;
- Seminars for networking and job interviews; and
- Mock interviews, and more.
Always check with each your specific service provider to determine your eligibility for settlement programs. To learn more about what free settlement services are available to newcomers in Canada, visit our dedicated page here.
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