The importance of professional networking in Canada
Published February 8, 2023.
Professional networking in Canada can be the step that empowers skilled immigrants and refugees to succeed in achieving their career goals and growing their incomes. The Windmill Microlending blog connected with Calgary-based immigration career success expert, Musenga Simwawa. Full disclosure, Musenga used to be a Windmill client success coach. Despite having moved on to new career opportunities, Simwawa continues to support newcomers in rising to their fullest potential in their new country.
Calgary's Musenga Simwawa (pictured) says, as an immigrant or refugee, you can benefit from professional networking in Canada to grow your income or advance your career.
Windmill Microlending (WM): Why is professional networking important in Canada?
Musenga Simwawa (MS): Professional networking is essential to your job search in Canada. Networking leverages personal, professional, academic, or familial contacts to assist with a job search, achieve career goals, learn more about your field or another field in which you'd like to work. Networking can also be an excellent way to hear about job opportunities or get in at a company with which you'd like to work. It also opens up a lot of doors that you would not usually have had access to.
WM: What are some barriers that prevent skilled immigrants from jumping into the professional networking pool?
MS: When people come to a new country, they tend to hold back and keep to themselves. There is this fear that if they plunge in, they might make mistakes and sink. Language is also a barrier, i.e., being misunderstood because you have an accent. Immigrant job seekers should have the courage to step out and go beyond their fears.
Biases also prevent people from wanting to put themselves out there. For newcomers, it could be the fear of rejection based on the way they look, where they are from, or how they speak.
If you are generally not good at meeting with new people and interacting, then professional networking becomes hard. But anybody can do it if they focus on pushing through their fears. You have to try.
Humility becomes essential. It requires effort and sacrifice, which, if applied, can lead to many career opportunities.
For more information on how you, as a skilled immigrant or refugee, can bring your skills to the Canadian job market and achieve your full career potential, download Windmill Microlending's free Skilled Immigrant Career Success Guide.
WM: What are some of the ways people can network?
MS: Put yourself out there and knock on doors. Attend conferences, job fairs, webinars, and also volunteer within your professional industry. Nowadays, networking events are online, so it's a great way to start. Checking websites such as Eventbrite and LinkedIn can help connect you with a community and lead to meeting the right people who can expose you to job opportunities.
In Canada, professional associations are commonplace. Skilled immigrants and refugees can capitalize on this by joining one relevant to their field. You can also identify organizations you'd like to work in and use LinkedIn to approach someone who works there for an informational interview. Informational interviews allow you to get essential insights into the workplace culture of the organization.
WM: There's the old saying, "It's not what you know, but who you know." Does who you know really matter?
MS: If you know someone in an organization, It doesn't mean that you'll be guaranteed an interview. It's about having someone vouch for your skills and experience and put in a good word for you. Professional connections and references are vital in Canada and can help you find that first or next career opportunity.
WM: Any last pieces of advice for newcomers to Canada?
MS: I was once in your shoes. An immigrant from Nigeria, looking to find career success in a new country. We must try to be strategic and intentional. Make sure your professional story highlights your soft skills and creates connections. This professional story or elevator pitch should be short and precise. If you were in an elevator going up or down a few floors, think about how you would articulate your experience and skills to a stranger. Lastly, wear your confidence like an expensive suit. Do not try to be someone else. Present your authenticity and have an open mind. It's worked for me. Remember, we all have the potential to succeed.
Did you know an affordable loan from Windmill Microlending can help you pay for the costs of training, accreditation, certification or professional development courses in Canada? Skilled immigrants and refugees can complete our two-minute eligibility quiz to find out if a Windmill microloan is right for them. No credit history required.
Musenga Simwawa is the Entrepreneurship Relationship Manager at Calgary's FACE Coaltion. He is also a former Windmill Microlending client success coach and immigrant to Canada. Windmill's client success coaches play an important role in supporting clients through the development and completion of their career success plans. They assess employability skills, challenges and provide appropriate coaching and referrals to external services. Their work contributes to helping newcomer clients like you unleash your career potential in Canada.