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Breaking the Ice in a New City: How I Built My Network

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There I was on September 3rd, 2012, in my brand new apartment, looking over a city of 600,000 people, 15 of whom I knew. I am a young marketing professional, and I moved to Vancouver to expand my career opportunities. Unfortunately, I wasn’t getting call backs from the jobs I was applying for. I needed more ways to stand out and get noticed. With a little research, support from friends, and all the determination I could muster-up, this is how I did it:

1. Googling networking events around the city and attending one! Sure, it didn’t turn out to be the club I joined or a direct lead to a new job, but I broke the ice and got my first few contacts in Vancouver’s professional world.

2. Accepting invitations to events, no matter what. You never know where an opportunity exists. I was invited to a networking info night at BCIT where Jen Schaeffers, founder of Networking In Vancouver (NIV), spoke about networking etiquette. After the session, I was eager to learn more about networking and volunteer opportunities with NIV. I introduced myself to Jen, and a few days later I inquired about volunteering as a feature writer for NIV, and she invited me onboard!

2. Getting on Twitter and following interesting companies. I found that re-tweeting their posts often resulted in them following me back. I also made sure to tweet about my industry and share links to interesting news and events. An online presence is so valuable, and it could even lead to a job.

3. Introducing myself to as many people as possible – I was lucky enough to have a few friends when I moved here, so I made an effort to go out with them and meet their networks. I couldn’t believe how many contacts I made in just four months.  Every time I met someone new I’d add them to LinkedIn – and get this – there’s been numerous times when I find out that I already share connections with someone. You’d be surprised at how small the world really is.

4. Making my own business cards. I’m sure most of us have had that awkward moment when we make an awesome connection, but don’t have a business card to give them. Nip that in the bud and get some! They are easy to make. Go to staples.com, choose a card template, enter your info, and have 500 cards printed within a week for under $20 – so worth it!

4. Once I began to build a network in Vancouver, I felt more optimistic about landing a job, but I still wasn’t getting calls. I knew I had a lot to offer, but it wasn’t being portrayed through my resume. So, I reached out to an old friend who had experience with hiring, and she gave me some resume re-vamp tips. From there, I began to research how to make my resume standout. Once I added a bit of color, created a unique template, and re-worded some sections, my response rate grew by 30%. I couldn’t believe it! Taking some time to make your resume unique and easy to read will pay off.

5. Subscribing to job search apps. This was an easy way for me to find the latest job postings in my field every morning. Even if I couldn’t apply to them right away, I’d keep a list, and apply to them when I could.

6. Getting LinkedIn Gold. I’ve found this to be an extremely efficient way to reach out to potential employers whether you’re asking for an informational interview, or follow up about a job opportunity. The beauty of LinkedIn Gold: you can send a message to anyone, even if they are not in your network. It also allows you to see if they have any connections in common with you. I got an interview at HootSuite this way!

To sum it up, landing with two feet in a new city is tough, and I learned a ton along the way. I hope the tips and advice I’ve outlined will help those who are beginning their career, moving to a new city or area, or even tapping back into the professional world after some time away. Happy networking! It will pay off…trust me. After four months of sticking to these networking strategies, I found an amazing fit for my career goals and passion for oceanic adventures as the sole Marketing Coordinator for OceanWorks International at the Burnaby location. Even with a full time job, networking is an an great part of my life and I plan to keep it that way.

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