Immigration and Professional Transitions: Networking Tips

2015-2016 Issue 1

The rush of festivities surrounding the end of the calendar year offer more than just holiday cheer; it’s an opportunity to enhance your network. Office parties, celebratory drinks and family dinners are a chance to exchange festive greetings, but personal and professional updates are sure to come up in conversation as well.

“The holidays are a great time to network, because you’ve got a pretext you can use,” says Emile Nketiah, Career and Transition Advisor at McGill’s School of Continuing Studies. “It’s a chance to learn about other people and what they’re doing.”

With that in mind, Emilie’s compiled her favourite tips for networking situations. “These are transferable to all situations – from a holiday party to a professional networking event.”



1. Keep it light

Match your mindset to your event. “Work comes up in conversation at holiday parties, but this is not the time to ask about compensation and pensions. It can come across as rude,” says Emilie. Instead, “listen to others and find out how you can help. It’s an exchange.”

2. Create a buzz

“Write your own advertisement. I could introduce myself as Emilie the Career Advisor, but I might catch more interest if I say, ‘My name is Emilie and I help change lives.’ Or if I’m from Vancouver, I could say, ‘I’m from the city that hosted the 2010 Olympics.’ It’s difficult for people to remember names, but they tend to remember fun facts, stories, or an emotional connection.”

3. Do some detective work

Pay attention, and ask questions. “Networking is an exchange,” says Emilie. “It’s a chance to cultivate relationships. Encourage them to talk about themselves so you can listen, and find out how you can help. They’ll appreciate it.”

4. Make it easy for others

“Going into an event wearing an interesting wardrobe piece commands attention and makes it easy for others to start a conversation,” says Emilie. Just make sure your appearance is appropriate; you don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons.



1. Don’t be unprepared

Read a newspaper, catch up on industry news, and be ready to speak with confidence and clarity about your skills and abilities.

2. Don’t forget the basics

Make eye contact, smile, and initiate a handshake. “It’s relevant in every social situation.”

Do you want more specific information on networking? Need to know where to stand in a room, how to join a conversation already in proress, or if you should use a business card when you’re in between jobs? The McGill School of Continuing Studies’ Career Advising and Transition Service will offer workshops on networking in Winter 2016. Sign up for our newsletter to be notified.



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