5 ways newcomers can start building a professional network

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Many advise newcomers to build a professional network in order to access the hidden job market. However, this is easier said than done. Here are a few suggestions to start:

  1. Join LinkedIn and Facebook Groups

    Start by creating a good LinkedIn profile. Go on LinkedIn and search for groups specific to your profession or interest (e.g. Canadian Marketing Association, Manitoba Association of Home Economists, etc.). 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 of the group to make sure that it is based in MB or Canada). Upon acceptance, news, trainings, seminars, events and job opportunities will be open to you. You may also directly link with some LinkedIn 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 other professionals.

  2. Follow organizations in your field

    Using Twitter and LinkedIn, you can start following companies or organizations you are interested in as well as individuals whom you may know are active in your field. You can ask questions, share links to resources, comment and get inside information about companies or organizations using these platforms.

  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, conferences and job fairs

    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 Pages (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. It is good practice to share resources to members of your network and participating in events and activities. Just start getting out there and showing your enthusiasm about helping people. Goodluck!
Article updated May, 2020.

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