You are now living in Canada and looking for a new job. After updating your resume to meet Canadian standards, completing your LinkedIn profile to increase your chances of reaching new opportunities and creating your business card, it’s time to participate in your first networking event.
Conference, cocktail, tradeshow ; a networking event can be an incredible opportunity to widen your job search. For many newcomers in Canada, networking is something new and intimidating. The best way to increase your chances to succeed and meet people is to be prepared. Here are some tips to help you get ready for your networking event:
Before the event
Do your Homework
Before going to an event, find out more about speakers and other attendees. This way, you will be able to identify guests in the same job industry as yours and make a list of the most influential people to connect with. If you know more about them, you will find it easier to make contact and start a conversation. Thanks to the Internet, there are several options to do your research:
- The organizers are sometimes able to provide a guest list. If possible, request and download the list to select people who may help you in your job searches.
- Speakers can also help you expand your network. A speakers’ list/description is often available on the event page. Visit the event website to find out more.
- Use social media!
- A quick search on Twitter will allow you to identify people who share and talk about the event. These people will probably be part of it.
- If there is a Facebook event page, the “going” or “participants” part of the Facebook event will list you people interested in the networking event.
- If you have a guest list, LinkedIn will be your best friend. These social media help you to get more professional information about people you will meet: in which companies they work, what project did they participate in, do they look for someone to join their team…? Find anecdotes, common hobbies or background or fun facts to have an icebreaker for the event!
Something nobody wants during a networking event is to appear unprofessional. Some elements may help you gain confidence and adopt a professional appearance:
- Choose your outfit beforehand. Pick something professional, comfortable, and make you feel good: perfect for a walk around in during the networking event!
- Work on your Elevator Pitch. Your pitch will highlight your strengths and describe you in a short time (1 minute). During these few seconds, introduce your goals, your personality, and critical elements of your career.
- Make sure you have a pen and paper to write down contact or any other information.
- If you have one, do not forget to bring your business card. Bring more business cards than you think you’ll need and keep them in a hard case.
During the event
Respect the timing
“If you are just in time, you are already late!”
In Canada, to arrive a few minutes early is to be on time and to be on time is to be already late. Punctuality is essential. As in most cultures, respect is the foundation of business relationships; we recommend you to be at least 15 minutes early.
Take advantage of this moment to familiarize yourself with the place (bar, hall, terrace…), gain confidence, and even start your networking.
Use your preliminary work to meet and talk with the guests you have selected. Think about your notes and start the conversation with small talk about shared hobbies or fun facts, it will help you break the ice. Do not hesitate to ask the questions that you had prepared during your research.
If it goes well and before you go and see another person, do not forget to exchange your business cards. This will ensure to make an excellent follow-up and show you are interested in connecting with this person. (Our partner offers discounts on business cards for our members)
Just after a meeting, make notes of what you talked about to remind you later.
Finally, don’t spend too much time with only one person to strengthen your network.
After the event
After your hard work, it is time to complete your network. To build it, you should add the persons that you met on your LinkedIn and keep track of what you exchange with them (note on the card or LinkedIn). A few days after the event, send follow-up emails to anyone you met that you’d like to continue networking with. Make sure to personalize each email!
You should also plan to send them a message a couple of weeks after building the relation you just created.
Come and practice your skills at our next CONNECTWorking.