Do’s and Don’ts of networking
Before you start on your job hunt in Canada, it is extremely imperative that you spend some time trying to understand the Canadian culture. It pains me to see that newcomers are not well versed with the peculiarities of Canadian culture and consequently lose out on opportunities. And Canadian's are way too polite to tell you the correct way of networking!!
Canadians are extremely polite, they would say sorry often even if it is not their fault and thank you for every small thing. Such politeness also implies that they don't like to say No. A Canadian giving feedback to you would be phrased like "I like the work you have done on (so & so) but you might want to look at (so & so)"- this essentially means the person is giving you a very clear feedback to change. It is called a sandwich approach of feedback. Networking is also centered around such a culture of politeness. We will elaborate more on that.
Why people network so much in Canada?
Canadian professional culture is built around networking. Professionals like to identify new talent and thereby earn some referral fee and build their influence within their organizations. Almost 60-70% of jobs are not published in the open but are filled up through a referral Your chances of a referral are quite high once you meet a person and are able to connect on a personal level.
Another aspect is that people lose jobs very quickly due to a capitalist culture. It is normal for Banks to layoff hundreds of employees in one go due to a business decision. Once laid off the strength of your network determines your chances of being hired.
How to reach out to people from your own field?
The easiest way to connect is through LinkedIn. When you send a connection request, try to leave a small message talking specifically about your interest in reaching out.
Almost all large organizations encourage their employees to go out and mentor newcomers. As a result there are a lot of professional networking/mentoring events in Canada. Enrolling for such events is also an excellent way to meet a lot of new professionals quickly. Most such events are Speed Mentoring events and how it works shall be elaborated in another article. I shall also elaborate on how to register for such networking events.
How to ask for a job and what is a coffee chat?
Once connected, you will feel impatient to ask for employment. Don't do that ! Most Canadians will refrain from replying or stop replying if you directly ask for a job or a referral. They are just too polite to say No. Referral is an important thing in Canada and people don't feel comfortable referring you strongly unless they have met you or can really connect with your background. Thus it is important you reach out for an opportunity to meet. Such opportunities are typically addressed as coffee chats. You message while asking for a coffee chat needs to be a request for career related guidance. If you are more comfortable with the person you may ask the possibility of a referral. Also with every person that you meet, try to ask for introductions to new people.
If people feel like you and find you suitable, they will themselves push your case either through a referral or reaching out to people within their network.
Building your elevator pitch
How you communicate your value to the person standing in front of you is critical to influencing others and building your professional credibility. Elevator pitch is barely a 1 minute duration pitch highlighting your key attributes. It takes a lot of time, practice and patience to really build an impactful pitch.
The concept of personal branding
Canadian culture of built around the concept of a personal brand. The way you carry yourself, how well you connect with people, how you dress are important elements of building your brand. Employers like to hire you if they feel that you will show their company in a good way and can build social influence.