Networking has long been recognized as the most successful job search tool in today’s labour market. But for many immigrants, including myself, moving to Canada means starting all over again and building a social and professional network from scratch. Even though it can take a while to grow a network, technology has made it easier now than ever before to connect with people and build relationships.
If you’re searching for a job, follow these two steps to successful networking.
1. Reach out and expand your network
Knowing more people gives you access to information, resources and unimaginable opportunities. One of the strategies I used was to volunteer for a non-profit organization that connected me with hundreds of people from all walks of life. I also found a powerful community at Toastmasters and an opportunity to improve my public speaking skills. Everywhere you go provides a chance to meet people, but here are a few ideas to expand your network:
- Join communities, organizations or groups that give you access to large numbers of people
- Attend Meetups, Facebook Groups and networking events involving people with whom you share a common interest
- Take a course or program, or attend a job club in your employment centre
- Set up informational/networking interviews to connect with employers in your industry
- Look for mentors who can guide and support you
- Find out where the top people in your industry are hanging out
2. Provide value to others
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This quote has stuck with me and become the foundation of my approach to networking. Instead of looking at networking as a way to benefit yourself, reach out to people as a way to provide value to others, sharing your knowledge, energy, connections, resources and time. Starting from this mentality will always lead you to show interest in others rather than trying to get others interested in you. Here are some ways you can demonstrate you care:
- Send personalized messages to people you are aiming to connect with
- Focus on building relationships—endorse people for their skills and offer testimonials about their services or job performance
- Organize events for your community and bring people together
- Volunteer for an organization you believe in
- Follow up with connections—always ask if you can help in any way and be willing to work for free
Remember, networking is a two-way street. Don’t keep score of how many times you asked for help or how many times you helped someone. If you only think about networking when it comes to needing a job, you’ll miss out on making the connections that would truly help you in your life. Your world will change when you start seeing networking and relationships as a way of being and a way of making a difference in people’s lives.