They say, “your network is your net worth”. There is no shortage of success stories of newcomers and other professionals who found jobs or climbed the corporate ladder through networking, my story included. However, most people agree that networking can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be, according to Daniel Wang, a networking guru.
Daniel immigrated to Canada from Taiwan 25 years ago and over the years has become a trusted career coach for immigrant job seekers with experience organizing career and networking events. He shares these tips with Immigrant Muse from his wealth of experience and his role as an Employment Specialist and Career Consultant at British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA).
1. Practice small talk
Practice small talk techniques and content. Understand the topics that are most likely included in the Canadian small talk. Use the weather, traffic, or sports to initiate a conversation, and stay away from controversial topics such as politics, religion or personal subjects.
2. Stay curious and ask questions
Often, new immigrants who finally have the nerve to network still think about themselves. They often jump into selling their skills as they focus on their need for a job. However, if you approach another person while caring only about your needs, they’ll feel pressured. Instead ask about the person or the company that they work for. People are likely to respond favourably if you show interest in them.
3. Listen very carefully
Pay attention to what they’re saying and try to remember some of it. Also watch your body language during the conversation and avoid coming off as bored or uninterested.
4. Give – What can you offer to them?
New immigrants often feel that they don’t have anything to give since they are new to Canada. As a result, when they reach out to network, they just want to take. The reality is that immigrants have a lot to give. Many immigrants have experience working with global partners back home. They have valuable experiences and insights to share. Be proud of your experience and your home country because you have a lot to give. You can start by offering to volunteer in any event that they organize. You have your time and manpower to give, so don’t look down on yourself.
5. Share – What resources, insights and industry updates can you share?
Share industry news that you have come across. If you happen to know someone else or some other company who are in the same seminar or industry sector, you can bring that up. This will give the other person something to relate to or talk about. Focus on topics in your area of expertise. Down the road, if you become closer, then you can talk about other common interests outside your professional life.
6. Connect them to other people, programs, organizations, and corporations
Connect them to your existing contacts who can help make things happen. After all, networking is about giving and taking. This technique will also help you continue the relationship with your existing contact as you can use this as a reason to reconnect with them.
7. Stay in touch
Collect your new network’s contact and stay in touch if you promise to.
If you feel like you have nothing to say when you want to get in touch, then you haven’t used tip three. If you listened carefully during the initial conversation, then you’ll be able to remember one topic that interests your new contact. Do your homework by researching the topic or paying attention to news related to this. Reach out to ask a question about what you have learned to keep the conversation going.
8. Have fun
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Networking is supposed to be fun. If you keep on practicing these tips, you master the art of effective networking, and benefit from it.
I am proof that these techniques work because I obtained my first job in Canada through networking.
I first met Daniel through Skills Connect for Immigrants Program by Douglas College. I was a participant while he was an Industry Liaison and Career Consultant. As part of the program, the consultants taught us networking in the Canadian setting.
With elevated confidence, I attended a career event after completing the program. After the event, I introduced myself to the speaker using my elevator speech and took note of a common area of interest. Within 24 hours after our initial meeting, I sent the speaker an email to remind her of how we met, my career interests, and the skills that I can offer. Two months later, she referred and coached me for my first job in Canada.
Networking is a valuable skill but it can be a source of stress for many immigrants. Remember that you have used networking techniques even before coming to Canada. You merely have to hone your skills by using these eight simple tips for stress-free and effective networking and have fun while at it.