Challenges Faced by Immigrant Women while Networking and How to Overcome Them

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Moving to a new country or city is challenging in its own right. From uprooting your life and family to figuring out a new environment, new people, and new experiences, the whole process can be extremely daunting. It is not an easy task to connect with strangers or find connections who can get you help straight away. It takes time and effort, for immigrants especially, to adapt to new cultures, environments, and requirements. It is a cumbersome task to network with people coming from different cultural backgrounds and speaking different languages. People associate themselves with different genders, and mindsets and one must be sensitive and open to communication with everyone in order to network successfully, which could be a challenge in itself.

Speaking of immigrant women, they face networking challenges, and this ends up playing a hurdle in kickstarting their career or landing the jobs they’d wish for. Although workplaces are becoming more diverse and inclusive, getting your foot in the door is one of the most complex challenges. Recruiters, at times, are skeptical or unwilling to hire new talent irrespective of how experienced a candidate might have been in their home country. Landing interviews and making the right connections takes patience and should not be treated lightly. 

You should network for the following reasons:

  • Finding job leads and new opportunities
  • Gaining industry knowledge or know-how about a specific job
  • Showcase your skills and get noticed by the right people

Networking and building connections indeed have their perks; meaningful connections will always positively impact how your career progresses. However, we understand that building connections do not come naturally to everyone and can be incredibly challenging for women and immigrants. Therefore, our blog highlights the challenges faced by immigrant women while networking and how they can resolve them to move forward with power and conviction. 

Challenges Faced by Immigrant Women While Networking

Presence of Nepotism
Nepotism can be a double-edged sword posing a problem either way. Nepotism is when a relative is hired for a position without them needing the right credentials or requirements for the job. On the one hand, Immigrants feel that without having someone on the inside, they will not be able to land good jobs. If they do not have relatives in the host country, they feel their job search might be futile and find it hard to network without having anyone to introduce them to other members of the community.

On the other hand, immigrants could also be under the impression that nepotism is not tolerated and believe their connections will not be able to help them even if they have connections. 

Language Barriers
Although most immigrants applying for jobs are required to clear language tests demanded by the host country, one cannot confuse language with communication. Knowing a language and being able to comfortably express your thoughts are two different ends of the spectrum. A lot of women find it challenging to communicate and are unable to bring out their true selves. Additionally, recruiters expect clear communication and expect immigrants to communicate clearly and effectively. Being able to conform to cultural practices, role expectations, and adherence to good business practices also becomes challenging to non-native speakers.

Initiating Connections
Finding your very first network and group of people is hard. They don’t just land out of thin air. Connections can be built through common friends or common acquaintances but if you’re completely new to the country, it makes it that much harder to go out and find connections that can help you out. With tools like LinkedIn, it has become easier to bridge the gap, however, it still remains a challenge to actually start your network and start getting noticed. In fact, even professional and qualified women find it hard to obtain the spotlight in this tough, male-driven society and must constantly fight for their equal say. 

Most immigrants and women hesitate or shy away from asking for professional help from people they’ve just met. It takes time to build a connection and you cannot just jump to asking about job opportunities. It is generally perceived rude to ask for “help” or “favours” from a person you’ve just connected with. There is a way to go about breaking the ice, building the connection over time, and knowing when is the right time to ask for help.

Cultural Differences
A lot of immigrant women come from cultures where women are supposed to be timid, shy, and not very direct. Coming to a country and finding yourself in a culture where women compete, are vocal, and have confidence can seem all the more daunting and intimidating.

Now that we know some of the common networking issues, here are some tips to overcome networking challenges.

Tips to Overcome Networking Challenges

Seek Professional Help
There are a vast number of organizations put in place to help immigrants with a smoother transition into the new country. Regional Diversity Roundtable is one such organization that is spreading the message of diversity, inclusion, and equality in the workplace. RDR works closely with organizations and conducts training sessions, leadership, and coaching workshops to help new immigrants find their place and voice. RDR aims to make workplaces more inclusive by imparting the right awareness on the subject and is an advocate for women finding inclusion. RDR is here to help you find a place in an unknown land.

Expand your Network
It will always be easier to grow your network among people who belong to your home country. However, having started with that, expand your network to interact with people who speak other languages. This will allow you to interact in one of Canada’s official languages as opposed to resorting to your native language. It will also make you more confident to interact with people you are unfamiliar with and will help you fit into work with better ease.

Be a Part of Volunteering Groups
Volunteering might seem counterintuitive but being part of a volunteering group is an excellent way to build your network along with giving you a local experience to add to your resume. Small additions such as this go a long way to helping you during interviews.

Make Strategic Connections
Making connections will only help if you’re making the right connections. Don’t connect with people just for the sake of it. Try to find people in your industry, who have jobs similar to what you’re looking for so they can help you out. You can have informational interviews with them to understand the job market and requirements better. Attend networking events that cater to your industry. Spend your time wisely by making meaningful connections.

Remember that It’s Not Just About Finding a Job
The objective of making connections should be to meet people and not just for the sake of finding a job. Yes, finding a job is important and one of the primary goals of immigrants, however, no one will just give you a job right away. Build better connections, have meaningful conversations, and let those connections last, so they can consider you if a job opening comes up. If you meet people only from the perspective of landing a job, you will not get very far.

Regional Diversity Roundtable is Here For You
Regional Diversity Roundtable understands the challenges and hurdles faced by immigrants in a new country. Various events and programs such as the Community Leadership Program are hosted by RDR with the aim to help the community grow together. RDR is here to help immigrants and women from various nationalities find their place by making workplaces more equity and diversity-driven. Contact us at 905-232-7371 for more information.