I recently attended a Networking Seminar, hosted by the Pakistani Professionals Forum of Canada (www.ppfcanada.com) where the famous author/presenter/columnist Colleen Clarke (www.colleenclarke.com) was the guest speaker.
Now for me, this was an early Christmas gift, as I have been reading Colleen’s columns for 3 years now, and incorporating her articles into my coaching/teaching sessions whenever I help people with their employment skills, cover letters, resumes, interviewing techniques etc.
During group discussion at the seminar I had mentioned my opinion on how immigrants could better enter or deal with the Canadian professional workforce. Simply speaking, I suggested that there will be at least 3 cultures on the table: Canadian, Original or Mother Country, and Corporate Culture. So, which one is the easiest for everyone to find some common ground?
The International business culture for sure. Yes it is important that new Canadians understand why we love hockey and Tim Hortons, and why we think we are in some ways better than Americans, and why B.C. hates Ontario. And it is also important that the Canadians learn about other cultures, rituals and histories, especially those belonging to our new co-workers, bosses or clients. But the easiest starting point for anyone is the business or corporate culture of North America. This is the easiest transition for an immigrant.
So if you are a newcomer to Canada, make sure that you are learning how to write letters, memos and emails in our style. Make sure you are learning which expressions and idioms are acceptable. Make sure you are learning business etiquette on the simple things like how to shake hands with a smile and eye contact, how to negotiate without being perceived as too strong or too weak, how to make small talk with your co-workers at the water-cooler. We all agree that hard skills are not enough these days in Canada. We need excellent soft skills too.
Speaking of, after the seminar I approached Colleen to buy her book and chat once more, i.e. network! That evening she called me and interviewed me on my views previously mentioned in the seminar. We talked for 20 minutes and had great rapport. I believe she will cite me as a reference in an upcoming weekly article. I felt thankful that my ability to communicate my ideas in the seminar and face to face had paid off with a new, important contact. My story is more proof that effective professional communication skills are important for networking, for understanding, for success in business here.
Do you know anyone who is in need of small talk, rapport-building skills? If so, please direct them to my website (www.communicationcoach.ca) and let them know I offer free consultations. 🙂
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and let’s all have a bright, successful money-making New Year!