Building a Business Network as a Newcomer to Canada

Newcomers to Canada with an entrepreneurial spark can start building their business network right away. To find out how, Small Business BC connected with Amelia Chan from HR Options to tap into her immigration support expertise. Here’s Amelia’s advice for newcomers:

What’s the first thing a newcomer growing a business network should do?

“A newcomer should consider their areas of interest and background as a starting point,” said Amelia.

Growing one’s business network is most impactful when there is connection. If the person already has some built-in interest or expertise, it is easier to find opportunities to meet others and build relationships,” she said.

What challenges do newcomers face? What are the opportunities?

“The challenge of building a network in Canada is knowing where to start,” said Amelia. “It can be overwhelming to “network” when the person isn’t sure how to go about meeting new people, finding the right groups or even what cultural norms are acceptable in the new country.”

“The biggest opportunities can be found in unexpected places by putting yourself out there to meet new people and learning more about the local community,” she said.

What resources can newcomers use to network?

“Start with people who you already know,” said Amelia. “This lessens the anxiety of putting yourself out there to uninterested strangers and provides some built-in reassurance of goodwill.”

Amelia said while there might not be any direct connections to your business network targets,  indirect introductions open doors.

“There is less pressure that every conversation must lead to a specific outcome,” said Amelia. “Start by researching professional associations, networking groups or special interest organizations to find whether there are events and mentorship programs.”

Is quality or quantity more important in networking?

“It is important to understand what the person is trying to achieve in building their network,” said Amelia.

“Both quantity and quality can be important in different ways. The kind of relationship you are looking for is the key. If the person wants to establish a new venture or develop an awareness of their product/service/business, quantity can be helpful,” said Amelia.

“However, if the person is seeking a specific type of project or venture, it is more beneficial to develop relationships,” she said.

Her final advice for networking is to start with sincerity and mutual interest to both hold attention and be memorable enough for a follow-up conversation.

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