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Looking for your first job as a newcomer in an unfamiliar city or country can feel overwhelming. Would you feel more confident if you had an informal team advising you along the way? That’s one benefit of networking – making connections with people with whom you can build relationships, discuss career goals, and exchange information to increase your chances of employment success.
Benefits of Networking
Employers don’t always post job openings publicly. If you limit your search to only those found online or in a newspaper, you may miss opportunities.
When you have a network of people who know you are looking for work, they may be able to:
- point you towards unadvertised opportunities
- refer you to helpful contacts
- pass on other tips to guide your search
The obvious connections are people with expertise in the area you want to work in. In other words, members of a professional association or individuals working in the type of role you want.
Who to Network With
However, your connections don’t have to be experts. They could be family, friends, neighbours, teachers, or people you volunteer with. Perhaps they know someone who works in your field who could provide advice.
For a checklist to help you come up with potential contacts, click here.
Successful networking is not about asking someone directly for a job. Your goal is to build a relationship based on common interests. You want to seek advice from this person, exchange information, and find ways that you can help them too. After all, the benefits of networking should not be one-sided.
You can make connections online, by phone, email, or in- person. Your connection might begin in one format, and then switch to another.
If someone has taken the time to meet with you, follow up with a thank you letter or email. This is also a good chance to think about how you can help them in return. One approach is to send them a link to an article about a topic discussed at your meeting.
- Reach out to people through social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Follow the social media channels of a professional association related to your career goals. Responding to a post with a thoughtful comment can be the first step to building a relationship. The Alberta government has extensive tips for online networking here.
- Talk to participants at a networking event or conference, exchange business cards, and then connect with them later. Learn about ways to start conversations in this Forbes article.
- It’s easier to connect with people who share a common interest with you. Look for clubs or Meetup groups related to your interests or hobbies. Participate and get to know members first before seeking networking advice or referrals.
- Connect with other newcomers who know what you’re going through. Try searching online for expat groups in your city or getting involved with an organization that helps immigrants.
- Have one of your connections introduce you to someone new. The person should work at a company you’re interested in. That way, you can then call or email that person requesting a meeting to learn what it’s like to work for that company. To increase the likelihood of a potential contact meeting with you, make sure you’ve been introduced by someone they know.
- Once you’ve landed a job, keep communicating with your network. You and your contacts can continue to help each other as your career progresses.
The Alberta government presents practical networking advice on the ALIS website.
At the Calgary Immigrant Educational Society, our Employment Skills Training and Pre & Post Canadian Workplace Training provide in-depth information about networking for newcomers. Our youth employment and entrepreneurship programs also cover networking.
Other immigrant-focused networking resources in Calgary include: