Many international students think that the best way to network is to highlight their accomplishments and convince others that they’re the perfect candidate for a job. But this isn’t true.
Networking is not an audition. It’s an opportunity to connect with people.
No matter who you’re networking with, you don’t need to treat your relationships as opportunities for career advancement. If you approach networking with this attitude, other people might quickly realize that you want something from them, and this might prevent them from opening themselves up and truly connecting with you. At the end of the day, networking is about developing real, authentic connections.
Consider the case of one international student, who we’ll call Charlie.
Charlie was a 24-year-old international student from Kampala, Uganda who had no Canadian work experience when she graduated. But she knew she needed to start somewhere if she was going to work in Canada after graduation.
She received a lot of rejections at first. But that all changed one winter afternoon when she walked into the 3 Brewers restaurant in downtown Toronto to interview for a job there. The manager quickly scanned her resume and noticed that she was from Kampala.
“I volunteered there a few years ago!” said the manager.
The next thing Charlie knew, she was chatting with the manager about their common affection for the people and places of Uganda.
Because of this personal connection, Charlie rose above the other job applicants who were trying to sell themselves.
Three hours later, she was hired.
Charlie’s story shows that telling others about your journey can be a very powerful way to connect with people on a deep level. Drawing on your personal story can be a great way of building authentic connections, not only with future employers, but with everyone you meet.