Recently I received the following message from an upcoming newcomer to Canada:

“To set up an information interview over coffee, I am not used to this culture as I have never had a chance of it in India. I am not very sure how to go about it. Preparing my questions and setting up a meeting with someone I have never met is a bit overwhelming.”

Talking to strangers is hard.

You’re telling yourself, “I’m an introvert. How can I just speak to a random stranger and ask for help?”

You’re also concerned you might be bothering the other person, or they are so busy they won’t have the time to help you.

But I’m here to tell you right now, connecting with people and asking for informational interviews is not as hard as you think. You won’t be bothering anyone or wasting their time.

If, you take the right approach.

This post is about the 3 rules of networking in Canada that will help build your network to get referrals to job openings.

Why Is Networking Important?

Many people tell me that networking is not culturally applicable in their country.

But the more stories I hear of how people get jobs from abroad, the more I tend to disagree.

Someone very close to me (let’s call him Bob) recently lost his job in Dubai.

Most job seekers in his place would have resorted to the norm. They would have endlessly launched their resumé to online job boards.

But Bob knew better. Instead, he went on a mission to contact everyone on his professional network in person, explaining his current circumstances and goals.

This wasn’t just family and friends. Bob was primarily connecting with external vendors and colleagues he dealt with from his former organization.

Because he had an excellent relationship with every one of them, they of course gladly decided to meet him for informal meetings.

Eventually, two of them came through for him. An introduction was made to a SVP who was struggling to find someone to fill a yet unadvertised position. Bob seemed to be perfect for the role on paper.

So they met for coffee first. The SVP was impressed with what he saw on paper. Now he met Bob in person, he was sold.

He asked Bob to go through the formal HR channels to apply for the position. But they both knew this was just a formality. The SVP was the decision maker of who gets this job, and his decision was already made.

Of course, HR had no objections. One thing led to another, and Bob got the job.

What were the key reasons for Bob’s success? One: His courage and willingness to be vulnerable, to reach out to his network when he needed them. Two: His informational interview meeting with the decision maker of the position.

The job was his before the formal hiring process even began.

The Three Rules of Networking

The story above isn’t something out of the ordinary. This is how jobs are gotten in Canada and all over the world if you ask me.

Applying for jobs online in the comfort of your home may seem like the easy, productive thing to do. But those who are getting off their butts and meeting decision makers in person are the ones who remain employed for life, no matter which country they are in.

Now you might be telling yourself, “Well that’s a great story for someone who already has an established network. What if I’m moving to a new country and I don’t know anybody?”

It’s a challenge no doubt. But it’s a challenge you can easily face if you follow these three simple rules of networking:

  1. Target the right people
  2. Always offer value
  3. Keep in touch

Rule 1: Target The Right People

Many people looking for their next job, seek the comfort of just reaching out to family and friends or people they already know.

While that’s a good start, those conversations should always end with “Who do you know in so-and-so industry?”

It’s very likely that your immediate network will not be able to help you. But someone in their network will.

Your ultimate goal should always be to target the decision makers of the job that you are going after.

If you remember in Bob’s case, it wasn’t the person on his immediate network that got him the job. It was the SVP she introduced him to.

Rule 2: Always Offer Value

Once you have a list of decision makers from your immediate network (or from your own self-initiated research) it’s time to build a relationship.

And this is where most job seekers screw it up.

Their first communication with a contact is always about ask-ask-ask, take-take-take.

As I type this blog, check out this message I just received from a random person who connected with me:

“Wishing you a very happy new year! I’m looking for a remote job if you have anything related to me please let me know.”

This is not networking. Yet, this is how most people do it.

The right way to start building a relationship is to help people. Offer value. Read articles about the industry you have in common and share it with them. Look at the interests of the other person which is openly available on their profile, and send them info on it. The easiest thing to do is to read news about the company they work for, and share articles or your thoughts or opinions with that person.

Does it take more work? Yes. Does it take more time? Yes.

Does it yield better results which will get you the job you want faster? Hell YES!

Rule 3: Keep In Touch

Another critical mistake job seekers make is not keeping in touch.

I get it. You need a job now!

That doesn’t mean you connect with a decision maker and if they can’t help you with a job then and there, you ignore them and move on to someone else.

Because here is the reality for hiring managers in Canada. There is a good chance that they don’t have any openings available for you the moment you connect with them. But there is a 100% chance that they will know of someone in their network who does have an opportunity that is right for you in the next couple of weeks.

The question is, will they remember you.

If you have not kept in touch, chances are they won’t remember you. Out of sight, out of mind.

It’s up to you, not them, to set up a reminder, a schedule, whatever works for you, to stay in touch with your network and keep offering them value.

Experts say a job search is like a marketing campaign. Everybody knows Pepsi and Coca-Cola. Yet they still spend millions of dollars on advertising every year. Why? To remind you they still exist. So that when you’re in need of a drink, you grab their brand.

That’s what keeping in touch with your network will do for you. So that when they need somebody with your talents, they will remember you.

Get To 25!

Orville Piers, author of Highly Effective job Search, said that if you can build an effective network of 25 people, by the time you reach #25, you would have found your next job.

This number was based on research he conducted within his own organization of 1000s of job seekers.

When I say “effective” network, it mean these 25 people must be decision makers of your next job. That’s not your friends and family. That’s not recruiters.

Effective also means these 25 people are in an ongoing dialogue with you. When you message them on LinkedIn, they message back.

And the only way this happens is if you follow the 3 rules above.

The thought of informational interviews may seem uncomfortable to you at first. But if you take the time and effort to network effectively online, you will no longer be meeting with a complete stranger.

If you are, or soon-to-be a newcomer to Canada, I get that not having a strong network is holding you back.

But you can take back control and build that network in advance if you simply follow these three rules and make a habit of networking every day.

Give yourself 10 min a day to build a strong connection with one person. As you get comfortable with the process, up it to 20 minutes, till you eventually get to 25.

It will take time. It will take patience. But the results, according to research, are guaranteed. You will be well on your way to getting the job you deserve.