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Dos and Dont’s of Networking in Canada

A great way to help find employment in Canada is through networking. Networking means that you are creating and maintaining professional relationships with people who have similar interests or experiences in your career field or industry. Networking can take time and effort, but the outcomes can be very rewarding for you and the people you connect with. Below are some helpful guidelines on what to do and what not to do to ensure a valuable networking experience.

Dos of Networking

Do: Create a LinkedIn Profile

One of the first steps you can take in networking is to create an online professional profile. Professional networking services such as LinkedIn are commonly used in Canada. Creating a profile to show your previous work experience, interests and skills will allow your new contacts to connect easily with you, and will allow you to find other key people to network with. Employment recruiters also use LinkedIn to post job opportunities that you can apply for.

Do: Set up coffee chats

Connecting with professionals in your field can often be overwhelming in larger group settings and makes it difficult for you to set yourself apart. To help develop your professional relationships further set up one-on-one coffee chats. Remember to always come prepared with questions and points of discussion before meeting with someone. Some examples include:

  • How does the industry operate differently in Canada? (Be ready to explain how the industry operates in your country of origin)
  • What is the best entry point for a career in the industry?
  • Do you have any tips for success in the industry?

Do: Follow up promptly

After you have made a new connection with someone in your field of interest it is important that you re-connect with them quickly so that they remember you. Try to send them an email within 24 hours of meeting them and remind them of how you met or were connected. If you discussed finding a time to meet them again, be sure to mention this when you follow up.

Do: Remember to shake hands and be polite

First impressions are very important when making professional connections. When you are introducing yourself and saying goodbye be sure to shake hands firmly and make eye contact. In Canada, this demonstrates confidence and respect for the person you are meeting. However, if for cultural reasons you prefer not to shake hands, this is also completely acceptable.

The term “having good manners” simply means being polite and respectful. Common ways that manners can be demonstrated include:

  • Using “please” and “thank you” when you are asking for something.
  • Listening to others when they are speaking and don’t interrupt them.
  • Avoiding using offensive language.
  • Introducing yourself by name when you are meeting someone new.

Do: Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to meet the people who work in your field of interest. For example, volunteering at the local hospital will help you gain access to medical professionals in their professional environment, while volunteering at a cultural festival might connect you to others in the community who will know of professional opportunities. Volunteering will also help make your resume standout to a potential employer by demonstrating that you have practical experience.

Do: Find a professional association

A professional association is a structured group of like-minded individuals within a particular industry or field. They often gather to discuss advancements in the industry and to network with fellow members. Joining can help you better understand the Canadian aspects of the career you are pursuing, while also connecting you with people who have established themselves within the field.

A great place to start looking for a professional association related to your career is the Professional Immigrant Network (also known as the PIN program).

Do: Improve your English and French language skills

Communicating effectively is a very large part of networking. Since Canada is a bilingual country it will be beneficial to improve your English and French language skills. There are many classes that are offered free through the Canadian Government, as well as more advanced classes through Canadian colleges and universities.

Dont’s of Networking

Don’t: Assume that your previous work experience will be automatically recognized

Your international experience can be a valuable addition to your career in Canada. However, because you are starting over in a new country you may need to work harder to have your experience and skills recognized. When you are networking, find ways to highlight your previous work experience in the conversations to help you get noticed.

Before meeting with someone, research the company that employs them. Look at the company’s online job postings for the skills that they value in a potential employee. Matching these skills to yours can help you advance.

Don’t: Wait for people to approach you

As a newcomer to Canada it is important to be proactive in your networking. Feeling shy is natural but overcoming this and approaching people in your community will help you strengthen your network. Taking the initiative and being a leader are also impressive qualities that future employers will be looking for!

Don’t: Interject when someone is speaking

Engaging in meaningful discussion is an essential part of networking. In Canada it is important not to interrupt someone while they are speaking, as doing so can often be taken as a sign of disrespect. Patiently listening can communicate that you are respectful and interested in what the other person is saying.

Don’t: Ask for a job - Ask for advice instead

Think of your new network as allies in your job search. These individuals will be able to provide advice and guidance within your industry. Asking them directly for a job can put a lot of pressure on the person. Instead, ask them for information or tips on how they found their current employment opportunity.

Scotiabank Advisors are also a great resource in your community. Ask them about the new community you live in and the resources that are available to newcomers.

It is helpful to think of any professional relationships you create as ones that are beneficial to both parties. Just as a new connection in your field may help you get an interview for a job, you may also have some valuable information, connections and skills from your home country to share that can help them in an aspect of their career.

Good luck as you build a professional network in Canada!