Contributor: Sean Mathews
Strategy Consultant, RBC Ventures
Like every newcomer, when I landed in Canada I read every article on how to land a job here. When it came to networking, they all gave me the generic do’s and don’ts. Through trial and error, I learned that there is a cultural nuance to networking in Canada which is very different from back home. I feel that the word networking may be too cold and clinical to describe connecting with people in Canada. I prefer the word connections: meaningful, human connections.
You might ask the question, why use the word ‘human’? Isn’t it understood that we are connecting with other humans? When it comes to connecting for business, many newcomers forget that they are connecting with real people with real emotions, and they end up talking only about the desired role and how their skills and capabilities make them a suitable candidate. From what I’ve heard, after interviewing a great candidate, hiring managers will ask the question, “Would I have a beer with this person after work?”. This is a reflection of employers seeking candidates who connect with them at more than just a job skill level. Based on the above here are a couple of strategies to improve emotional resonance with potential employers:
Tell your story: Your personal journey is a rich resource in bringing your character to life: Your personality, values, sense of humour. It’s an opportunity to create a real connection with your prospective employer through emotion and human interest, not merely the contents of your resume. It might be a good idea to take a step back and think of how you should position yourself for the Canadian market.
Be memorable: Find opportunities in your conversation for the person to remember you. It could be a clever way for the person to remember your name, critical milestones in your journey or an area of passion.
Be clear: Have you ever been asked the question – “So what is it that you want to do?” or “Why are you interested in this role?” These questions are indicative of the person wanting to know if you believe you are right for the role, about what you offer, and what excites you about the industry.
While you strive to expand your network you might want to reflect on the quality of your connections. Just connecting with people on LinkedIn doesn’t make it meaningful. Having conversations that confirm your interests and goals match theirs will help qualify your network. In Canada, a great way to have meaningful communications is over a coffee chat. Remember a few key tips:
- Keep a note of their interests.
- Learn about their passion projects.
- Provide them with a deeper understanding of who you are beyond your professional interest.
- Remember things you discuss and follow-up on those areas.
- Always ask for one or two further connections.
For example, I have had a professional connection share parenting tips with me which I have put to practice with great success.
Building your network of connections is a continuous effort. To ensure that you are constantly moving the needle in a positive direction it is important to have weekly targets. A good example of a weekly target would be to connect with 2 random people, 3 strategic people and reconnect with 2 people from the past. In our previous blog posts we published a three-part series that covered the following topics in much detail:
Canadians are famous for being polite, kind and welcoming; this is true in their professional lives too. Once you make a meaningful connection, most people will gladly help you find your place in Canada, either through referrals, information sharing, or moral support. Your number one priority is finding that job. Making meaningful human connections and building a more effective network will help you get there and beyond.
About the Author:
Sean is a brand and communications strategist with over two decades of experience working with clients in Airlines, Automobiles, Alcoholic Beverages, Banking, Confectionaries, Consumer Electronics, and Quick Service Restaurants across geographies. In his current role, he supports marketing and campaign development for Arrive and other ventures. Sean moved to Canada four years ago and shares his experiences with newcomers to guide them.