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As an international student, your network has to start somewhere. Even when in-person opportunities are few, you can still network in many different ways. Here are four ways to network virtually as you're just starting out.

Virtual networking has become the norm to make new connections and keep in contact with them. For international students, networking can be a great way to explore your career interests, learn about an industry and get ready for interviews — now more than ever.

Why virtual networking is important for international students.

Online networking can help you make connections, get career advice, ask for an introduction, or even get a referral for a job you’re interested in. A recent report from LinkedIn highlighted recent graduates are four times more likely to get hired through their networks.

Here are some helpful tips and resources to help you network virtually, both now and in the future.

1. Update Your Online Brand.

  • Now is a great time to update your online presence. Sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media are a good place to start. Having a strong profile on these sites can help you network online. Additionally, a personal website or portfolio can help you stand out to recruiters and new contacts.
  • Update your work and volunteer experience, follow people and groups that interest you, and stay engaged.
  • Once you’ve developed a strong online presence, work on an “elevator pitch.” An elevator pitch is a short summary that describes who you are, what you do and what you hope to achieve.

2. Start Your Professional Network as a Student.

  • Introduce yourself by email or social media to your professors and classmates. These people will be with you throughout your studies, and soon your fellow students will be starting their own careers.
  • Connect with alumni from your school. Graduates are often happy to help students just starting out — especially those who may have been international students like you.
  • Join a professional association. Many professional organizations have student member programs to help with career development and provide networking events.
  • Set up short informational interviews. People working in fields you’re interested in may give you 15 minutes of their time to talk about their experience, how they got started after school, their current position, or other topics related to their work.

3. Sign Up for Virtual Events.

  • Online workshops, town halls, lectures may be a great way to connect with new people, learn new skills, and get to know leaders in your field.
  • Research volunteer opportunities to help you make new connections and potentially gain work experience. Check out virtual volunteer opportunities available on campuses or in your community.

4. Keep in Touch.

New contacts, former colleagues or employers, and friends can be helpful to grow your network in Canada.

  • Keeping in touch can be as simple as an email asking how they’re doing. It’s a nice gesture to help you maintain relationships.
  • Shortly after meeting someone, send an email or message to thank them for their time and insights. This shows you have a professional manner, making it easier to contact them in the future.

Networking and growing your connections can be important skills throughout your career. If you want to brush up on your online networking skills, try these free online tools.

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