5 ways newcomers can start building a professional network

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Newcomers are always told about the importance of networking when they come to Manitoba. Many people advise us to build a professional network to access the hidden job market and get a job faster. Networking is also a way to integrate and facilitate continuous learning. But sometimes, establishing it is easier said than done. Many newcomers feel lost when they move to Manitoba and may be hesitant to approach people to connect.

So how do you start? Baby steps. Here are easy ways to begin growing your professional network:

  1. Join LinkedIn and Facebook Groups

    After joining and creating a good LinkedIn profile, you can start networking by joining groups. These can be specific to your profession or interest (e.g. Canadian Marketing Association, Manitoba Association of Home Economists, etc.). You can also follow conversations based on your interest (click on “Interests” on the menu). If you know the name of the association you wish to join, type it on the search bar and then click “ask to join” (check the location under the name and make sure that it is based in MB or Canada). Upon acceptance, a host of information such as news, trainings, seminars, events and job opportunities will be open to you. You may also directly link with some members (click “connect” next to their profile or send InMail) and wait for their approval.

    Joining a Facebook group is similar to joining one on LinkedIn. You have to search and then ask to join (unless it is an open group which does not require permission). This is a great way to initially know people in your field, stay updated about developments in your profession, get job leads, and share helpful resources (like articles, studies, tips) with professionals like you.

  2. Follow organizations in your field

    Using Twitter, you can start following companies or organizations you are interested in, as well as specific persons whom you may know are active in the field you belong to or are respected authorities. You can ask questions, share links to resources, and get inside information about companies or organizations through Tweets.

  3. Volunteer

    This won’t only get your foot in the door, it will allow you to know and be known by professionals in Manitoba. There are many opportunities to volunteer. Check your professional association, your church or community centre, and non-profit organization sites (especially Settlement Provider Organizations) and inquire about volunteer positions. It would be preferable to volunteer for a cause that can showcase your skills and training. However, volunteering for something as simple as being a greeter (someone who greets people as they enter an establishment), for example, can still help you grow your network. The important thing is to do a good job, be open, cheerful, and friendly.

  4. Attend seminars and conferences

    There are numerous free seminars and courses available out there especially for newcomers. Aside from face to face seminars/workshops, you can also attend online courses or webinars. Either way, you can meet people (virtually or in real life) and add them to your network. You can also attend job fairs, newcomer gatherings, and other community events to connect and stay connected (invariably, you will meet the same group of people in such events).

    A good source of upcoming newcomer events are Facebook groups (like Your English Online). You can also check with Manitoba Start, immigrant-serving organizations, and the Canadian Immigrant Magazine (Canada-wide).

  5. Start your own group or create a blog

    If you really want to be proactive about it, you can create your own blog, organize a Facebook group, or start a forum thread. If you like writing, getting answers, doing research and taking charge, this may be good for you. Try to specialize on matters that you are an expert on so that you can build credibility. People naturally flock to and follow people (on social media and the internet) who provide well thought-out and accurate content.

Try one or more of these suggestions and see your network start to grow. But be warned that maintaining a network requires nurturing as well. It is good practice to share resources to your network (instead of just taking resources) and participating in or helping out in events and activities. Just start getting out there, and be enthusiastic in knowing and helping people.

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Community Resources

New to social media? Read Social media basics and 5 ways LinkedIn can help your career.

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