by Nerissa Fernandes
In How to build your network (Part 1) we covered the basics of networking. In this blog, let’s dive deeper into how to start building your network and explore the various channels for networking.
Online networking vs offline networking
Networking can happen both, in online and offline environments and there are many platforms/forums that can help you with this goal. LinkedIn is definitely a good starting point to start reaching out to individuals from your industry of interest.
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Where can we build our network?
The short answer to this question is – wherever the opportunity presents itself, at an event, online, or even in everyday life!
Some of the channels where you can start to build your network are:
- LinkedIn – Check your existing network on LinkedIn for connections in Canada and reach out to them with a ‘warm’ note. Look up relevant contacts in your industry/sector or desired organization and send them a quick note introducing yourself along with your connection invite. Here is a template that you can use for your LinkedIn note and these are some more ‘warm’ messages that you can send.
- Events organized by newcomer settlement agencies – Many settlement agencies offer the opportunity to connect with industry peers and experts at various events for newcomers.
- Check websites like eventbrite.ca to find networking events relevant to your interests or field of work.
- Volunteering – Volunteering is a good way to meet new people and build relationships. There is also the added bonus of being able to showcase your volunteer work on your resume. Check out volunteertoronto.ca to learn about various volunteering opportunities in Toronto.
- Join professional associations – You may want to look up an association related to your industry. Associations are good channels to connect with others of similar interests and professional backgrounds.
- Sign up on meetup.com to explore networking events with a social flavour.
Networking tip: Remember to check if an event is a professional or a social networking event and set your expectations accordingly.
5 must-have’s for networking successfully
- Positive mindset and self-confidence – makes you an attractive person to communicate and spend time with
- Open-mindedness – be receptive to new thoughts and ideas
- Positive and curious attitude – helps you to learn more about the person you’re speaking with
- Respect for other cultures, education, professions, and interests – goes a long way in building a positive image
- Elevator pitch [your own short story used mainly for a professional introduction and only as long as an elevator ride] – works as a good way to quickly introduce yourself
Do’s and don’ts of networking
- Find out who’s coming to the event from online sources and social media
- If possible, introduce yourself beforehand via email or LinkedIn
- Research on the venue – where is it located, what’s the parking situation, which are the restaurants/cafes nearby
- Greet the host and convey gratitude
- Check the dress code
- Be proactive with introductions
- Use small talk as conversation starters
- Be a good listener
- Offer a firm handshake, coupled with a warm smile and eye contact
- Don’t act overly curious
- Don’t just linger; be polite and inclusive
- Don’t make the other person feel uncomfortable by asking intrusive questions
- Don’t pick on topics like religion and politics
- Don’t be disinterested in the conversation
- Don’t make a sales pitch
- Don’t follow people around unless you’re invited to do so
- Don’t use your phone in the middle of a conversation
Check out the last part in this series where we tackle the hot topic of “coffee interviews” (or “informational interviews”) and help you gain the confidence to build a meaningful professional connection.
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About the Author:
Nerissa is a business research and management consulting professional with over a decade of experience working with clients in IT, Telecom, Retail, Banking/Finance, Retail, Pharmaceuticals, and Healthcare across global geographies. In her current role at Arrive, she works as a content specialist leveraging her first-hand experience as a newcomer in Canada to write relevant blogs and assist other immigrants to ease their transition into the Canadian life.