Networking is a foreign concept to many international students. In many countries around the world, approaching strangers is not a common norm or sometimes it is even portrayed as inappropriate. In Canada, you are encouraged to put yourself out there to build meaningful relationships.
Learning the basic networking etiquette in Canada is crucial for an international student like us! Let’s dive in.
- Normalize talking to strangers
Networking is not only done online, it can happen anytime and anywhere. You might end up making a very good connection with someone from a coffee shop. You will find that people in Canada are friendly and are open to talk to strangers and engage in small talks.
- Age is not as important
Connecting and building a relationship with someone many years older than you might feel uncomfortable. Challenging people with authority like someone who is older, university professor, or your boss is not ingrained in many cultures elsewhere. In Canada, it is completely acceptable to reach out to someone who is in a leadership position and engage with a casual conversation.
- Small talk is a big part
Whether you are networking online or in-person, making small talks is a good way to build rapport. Begin a networking meeting with a small talk like the weather talk, complimenting someone, ask for their plan for the week etc.
- Asking questions is a sign of strength
In other countries, you might find asking questions as a sign of weakness because it makes you seem that you lack knowledge. You might feel shy asking personal questions to someone who is older than you for example. In Canada, you are expected to ask questions as a way to show that you are engaged in conversations. Be mindful as you do not want to ask questions related to religion, salary, marital status etc.
- Relationship over networking
Networking is about building a long-term relationship. It is rare that you will get what you are looking for after one interaction. Keep the conversation going, check-in with your connections, and show appreciation often to maintain a healthy professional relationship.
- Follow-up is encouraged
Do not be shy to follow-up after a conversation. Send a warm thank-you email within 24 hours of meeting the person. If you do not hear back after sending a request after a while, it is ok to follow up once or twice. To maintain the relationship, regularly send an email to your connections updating them on what you are up to and check in on them.
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