Network, network, network! It is important to belong to a group, a network, a club or any other social affiliation. Networking is powerful and it’s not something you can buy or acquire. You build it carefully throughout the years and across various countries. Social power is more significant that financial power in my opinion. I can’t imagine losing all my connections and friends, but I can imagine losing my job. Social inclusion gives us a sense of purpose and belonging. This will speak to immigrants like me who have lived abroad most of their lives. When we are away from home, we seek to connect with others who are in the same situation. We network, we join the local church, we volunteer at our children’s school and we do that in the hope to find connections. We try to find solutions to our struggles and eventually we end up stumbling upon a job opportunity because we heard from a friend that his/her company has been looking to hire a temporary Assistant. We are referred to job opportunities that we wouldn’t even know of had we stayed at home and simply applied for jobs online.
50% of the roles I had in the past where referrals from people that were in my network. This applies to a lot of people I know. It happens every day and we still struggle to believe in it. I was not a firm believer in networking until I started living in London. I found my first job in London thanks to a recruitment agency. My second job in London, was a referral. An ex colleague of my husband met with me for a coffee once and then, one year later, he emailed me about a position that he thought might be interesting for me and I got the job!
People are eager to help. People are happy to help. People are not necessarily interested in hearing about our problems, but they love to bring solutions and to suggest courses of action. My network of contacts is large, but I started small. The best place to start is at school/ University.
If you have recently arrived in a new country and you don’t know how to penetrate the job market, start with a course (in person, not online). In the classroom, you will meet other people like you who are seeking new opportunities. Start with a continuing education/ extension course. Don’t waste too much time with language courses when you can study something relevant for your career in the language you are aiming to learn.
I speak fluently 4 languages and I learned them through conversations, TV, radio, music, dating, networking, traveling and while simply living abroad. I hardly ever took language classes. I am not trying to discourage you from taking language courses, but I would advise you to use your time wisely. Networking is strong in American Universities, especially in the Bay Area. Once you are registered in an extension course, for instance, you will meet people who are in career transition, just like you, or people who are already inserted in the local job market, but who are seeking more understanding of the field they are in and maybe even people who are already working in the company you aim to work for. Not only will you connect with new classmates, but you will also connect with teachers who are experts in their field and industry. A teacher can become your future Manager, a teacher can refer you to a job or an internship.
I strongly advice not only joining a relevant course, but becoming the best student in your class. Present your essays with ease and confidence and you will create a reputation of excellence for yourself. Join your classmates in happy hours, study groups and join the alumni community. Take part of job fairs and career expositions. Attend the lectures that are offered by the University and take part in volunteering activities. I also advise my clients to join meetup.com. This is a networking platform that connects people will similar interests and backgrounds. It’s free and simple to join and you can meet any segment of the society. You can meet with single Brazilian moms who like to surf or Software engineers who like to play chess. The possibilities are endless!
Look up the events in your area on Eventbrite. Attend an event every month. Meet someone outside your circle of friends. Speak to someone you don’t know. Push the limits of your comfort zone and your networking limits will expand… this is where the magic happens!