8 reasons why networking is essential for your career in Canada
Starting a new career in Canada can be overwhelming for newcomers. Even if you’ve arrived in Canada with previous work experience, the way to approach the job market here may be different from your home country.
As you start to familiarize yourself with the professional culture in Canada, you will start to realize that networking is essential not just to get your first job as a newcomer, but also for your continued professional success in Canada.
We share why networking is fundamental to your career in Canada and why professional connections will be important no matter where you are in your career journey.
In this article we’ll cover the following eight reasons why networking is essential for your career in Canada:
1. Learn from other people’s professional success in Canada
Once you start growing and nurturing your professional network in Canada, you will be exposed to professionals at different stages of their careers. As a newcomer to Canada, you can use this opportunity to learn how recent industry entrants got their foot in the door and how senior professionals have grown in their industry.
Networking allows you to learn from other people’s successes and failures, so you can be better prepared for your own professional journey. For instance, while talking to senior professionals in your area of expertise, ask questions about their career path and alternative paths that may exist. Learn about the skills they’ve found useful in their role and polish your own.
Asking the right questions will help you get a better picture of the challenges you might face, things you could do differently to progress in your career, or transferable skills you’ll need for a successful switch to a different field of work.
2. Gain insights from informational interviews
Informational interviews are networking meetings that you arrange with the specific purpose of gathering information or insights about a particular industry, organization, or job role. As a newcomer to Canada, informational interviews can help you get a better understanding of the Canadian job market even before you step into it.
If you have a list of organizations you’d like to work with, you can connect with people working in those companies and request informational interviews. These meetings can provide you valuable insights into company culture and vision, organizational structure, hiring process, and open positions.
Similarly, coffee chats with people in roles similar to the ones you are applying to will give you information about required skills, responsibilities, tools they use for work, and key performance metrics for their position. Use these insights to bridge skill gaps, polish your resume, and prepare for interviews.
How to master an informational interview
Do your research. Review their LinkedIn profile and company website.
Be clear about what you want to get from the informational interview and set the tone of the meeting accordingly.
Stay away from personal questions and don’t ask for a job in an informational interview.
Ask for recommendations on other people you should connect with in their field or organization.
Send a thank you email. You can personalize the message by adding 1-2 takeaways you got from the meeting and how these will help you.
3. Opens the door to new job opportunities in your network
In Canada, between 65 to 85 per cent of job positions are never publicly advertised. As a newcomer, building a strong network can help you tap into this hidden job market. If handled well, a 20-minute introductory interaction or informational interview can initiate a relationship that may lead to a future career opportunity.
When you network with people in organizations you’d like to work for, position yourself as a potential candidate by showcasing the value you could bring and your willingness to build on your skills. Don’t ask for a job, but let people know the skills, expertise, and enthusiasm you bring to the table. Leaving a positive impression might give you an edge over other candidates when a suitable role becomes available in the company.
Even if the person you meet isn’t a hiring manager or there are no open roles in their organization, they might be willing to give you a recommendation for other job opportunities or on your LinkedIn profile.
Be sure to put your best foot forward in every networking meeting, no matter how informal. Remember new positions open up in organizations every day and the people you meet today might be the key to your next role.
4. Build and promote your personal brand
Your personal brand is what people think and say about you based on the impression you make. Just like businesses create brands for their products, you can carefully create your personal brand by highlighting your unique strengths, skills, interests, and personality traits when you network with people. Remember, this is a chance to tell your story in a way that is consistent, compelling, and memorable.
Building your personal brand will be an ongoing activity. Start by thinking about what makes you stand out as a professional and what you can bring to the table. Networking gives you a unique opportunity to refine and fine-tune your personal brand, based on the feedback and reaction of experienced professionals.
By clearly communicating your value and leaving a positive impression, you can stand out as a potential candidate and increase your “brand recall.” This makes it more likely for people to recommend you to their contacts or refer you for any relevant positions in their network.
TIP: Be sure to align your elevator pitch,LinkedIn profile, and other personal branding material (blog, website, LinkedIn posts, etc.) with your personal brand.
5. Find a mentor
A mentor is an experienced or skilled professional who acts as a role model and helps you (the mentee) enhance your skills for professional success. A good mentor can help you adapt your skills to the Canadian job market and can act as a guide to the local work environment. They can also help you grow your network and find job opportunities.
Finding the right mentor may take time, but by nurturing your connections, you should be able to find someone who understands where you are in your career journey and can help you prepare for professional success in Canada.
6. Build self-confidence for future job interviews
If you’re a little nervous before a job interview, think of networking as a practice run. Coffee chats with senior professionals will give you a chance to test your communication skills and practise your elevator pitch in a low-pressure conversation. Don’t hesitate to ask for candid feedback and use the insights you get to improve your interview skills.
Informational interviews can help you learn more about the industry or role you are applying for, so you can be better prepared for your interview. These networking meetings will also help you prepare and practice responses to potential interview questions regarding your skills, interests, and work experience.
For newcomers who are not confident about their English, networking can help you improve your listening and speaking skills. By listening closely and observing the professionals you meet, you can also learn about phrasing your answers, dressing for work, body language, and small talk or ice-breaker conversation topics.
7. Share ideas with people in your network
Many newcomers approach networking as just a means of getting advice, information, or job opportunities. In truth, networking can be just as valuable for the people you meet as it is for you.
Whether you’ve come to Canada with years of professional experience in a different country or have just graduated from a Canadian university and are looking for your first job, you likely have some insights to offer based on your experience or education. Networking allows you to broaden your perspective and share your knowledge with people who already have an established career in Canada.
Keep an open mind—free exchange of ideas may teach you a new way of doing things. Each interaction is a chance to learn something about the Canadian job market, working style, professional environment, or industry. Leverage your connections to learn about industry best practices and be willing to share your own experiences or insights. Who knows, perhaps your idea could help someone solve a pressing business problem!
8. Develop meaningful professional relationships through networking
Contrary to what many newcomers believe, there is more to networking than just connecting with professionals on LinkedIn or attending networking events. While that is the first step, the real benefits of networking emerge when you transform these connections into meaningful, lasting relationships.
Networking can help find connections that you can build on, but nurturing these professional relationships takes time and effort. The most important thing for newcomers to keep in mind is that networking is a two-way street.
Think of what you have to offer to your connections or how you can add value to their organization or professional role. This could be in the form of skills, international insights, connections or expertise in a particular industry, or just a common interest. Use your strengths and interests to keep the conversation alive and form a deeper bond. The idea is to build a professional network that you can tap into for advice, resources, and guidance, not just for your job search but throughout your career journey.
Now that you know why networking is crucial for professional success in Canada, it is time to start researching the people you want to meet and preparing for your networking meetings. Remember to go in with a clear purpose and a list of questions to help you get the information you’ll need to advance in your career in Canada.
This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.
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