The Importance of Networking

The Importance of Networking for Young Canadian Professionals

There are plenty of benefits to professional networking for young Canadians who are looking for ways to meet new people and connect. Leaving a positive impression is an important aspect of networking and so is making people think of the skills, experience, and competencies you have to offer.

Advantages for Young Professionals

Obviously, a major benefit to networking is that making contacts widens the pool of career opportunities. According to statistics, this is one of the most effective ways to find a new job because you learn about vacant positions which are not posted in the local newspapers or online. Instead of having to attend an interview or make a cold call, you'll have referrals to help you out in the search for your dream job. This is a proactive method to learn more about current job openings and land a job. It is less stressful and takes less time than going through hundreds of ads and job openings.

Additional Benefits

Networking offers plenty of opportunities to meet employers and make them know what your skills, experience, and expertise is. In addition to opening career doors, networking can benefit you in other ways – meeting professionals in different fields is a good way to learn about their competencies and experience. You can use your contacts to find a professional for your home improvement project, gym, or athletic club for your kids. You build relationships that benefit both parties. In essence, this strengthens your circle of influence and gives you more choice, depending on how big your professional network is. Networking also requires that you work on your communication skills and executive presence to make a positive and lasting impression. It is science and art to master, but you will learn plenty from others by engaging in dialogue. Be an active listener and take notes. It is also a good idea to ask non-standard questions. Asking questions that others wouldn't normally expect is a wonderful way to discover something new and deeper.

Another benefit to meeting new people is that young professionals discuss new business and technology trends and are exposed to insider information. Networking gives you an upper edge over the competition. It is also a way to learn more about best practices in your field or industry. You will learn more about industry benchmarks, strategies, advanced software, and a lot more. In brief, networking is about raising your profile, connections, more opportunities, increased business and profits, and generation of referrals, especially if you have a high quality network.

What to Consider

This may come as a surprise but there are some advantages to networking. While it is an effective technique to meet new people and land a new job, there is always a risk of indiscretion. If confidentiality is important to you, make sure you choose your contacts wisely. Sometimes networking requires more time, depending on what your expectations are. This works like a waiting game, especially if you are on the lookout for the right contact or opportunity. It is clear that the pros outweigh the cons but keep these in mind.

Keep in Touch

While meeting new people is important, it is certainly not enough. Follow-up is the key; so, keep in touch.

Credit Cards for Young Professionals

There are plenty of financial solutions for young professionals and college grads, from cashback and rewards cards to bad credit, store, and secured cards for young people who are new to credit.

Rewards Credit Cards

Young people love to travel, and many travel a lot for business or leisure. One way to save on travel-related expenses and get the most of it is to apply for a specialty credit card that offers bonus rewards points. Points are offered on purchases from select retailers and can be redeemed for flights and flight discounts, free amenities and upgrades, free accommodation, vacation and cruise packages, and a lot more.

Cashback Credit Cards

Many young people are cash-strapped and look for ways to save on purchases and expenses. One way to do this is to use a cashback card that offers a percentage back on purchases made. All major banks offer specialty cards and advertise add-ons and perks such as no limit or expiry date, no rotating categories, generous cash back on everyday purchases, no sign up required, and a lot more. In addition to welcome and other amenities, some issuers also offer cards with zero interest during the intro period and zero interest on balance transfers. Note that some banks require good or excellent credit to qualify.

Bad Credit, Secured, and Store Credit Cards

Many young people are new to credit or have bad or fair credit and look for ways to establish healthy scores. One option is to apply with finance companies that offer bad credit cards to enable borrowers to make payments and bookings and establish or reestablish credit. Keep in mind that many issuers charge slightly higher rates to make up for the risk of lending to risky customers. The rate varies by provider but some issuers charge high rates in the range of 25 – 30 percent. There are other options to look into, for example, a department store credit card. While these cards also go with higher interest rates, there are perks to consider, especially if you have a favorite chain or department store. Some issuers offer exclusive access to hot deals, promos, and offers to save money on goods and services. What is more, a department store card can help you build a healthy score over time if you make timely payments. Walmart MasterCard Canada, for example, offers bonus rewards in the form of dollar equivalents. This makes it easier for cardholders to see how much they have earned. Bonus rewards are easy to redeem and are offered on everyday purchases and in Walmart stores. Customers also benefit from incentives such as pre-authorized payment plans, convenience checks, recurring bill payments, cash advances, and more. Canadian Tire also offers a specialty card with no annual fee and bonus rewards in the form of Canadian Tire money. Weekly flyer bonuses are also available as an added benefit. A final option is to apply for a secured credit card whereby the limit is determined by the amount of the deposit made. Some issuers offer products with relatively small limits which is a good way to learn how to handle credit and improve your score at the same time. The good news is that issuers report to the major bureaus, which is how you build credit. While you can use a prepaid card instead, finance companies usually don't report payments. It is best to go with a secured card with a reasonable limit, which is usually based on factors such as your ability to pay, income level, and others.

Government Grants and Financing

The Canadian government offers grants and other financing options under different programs, depending on the purpose and amount. There are grants and low-cost loans to pay your college tuition, financial solutions for businesses, and more. You will find plenty of financing opportunities such as loan guarantees, subsidies, and contributions.

Government-Sponsored Student Loans

Students benefit from low-cost financing provided that they are enrolled at designated institutions of higher education. There are eligibility criteria to meet, and one is to be a permanent resident or Canadian citizen. Only students who are able to demonstrate financial need qualify. Government-sponsored loans come with better terms and rates and what is more, the repayment period begins once you have left school (for any reason) or graduated. Grants are also offered to students who demonstrate financial need or come from low-income families. There are also grants for persons with permanent disabilities, individuals with dependents, students from middle-income families, as well as students enrolled in part-time studies.

Grants for Businesses

There are plenty of financing opportunities for businesses depending on their requirements and field of operation. Administered by Export Development Canada, the Export Guarantee Program helps support businesses that have export contracts and can cover up to 100 percent of the associated direct costs and up to 75 percent of the loan amount. The focus of the program is on commercialization and export assistance. Other types of financial assistance are offered under the Young Entrepreneurs Program, the Yukon Business Incentive Program, etc. Government business loans with low rates are also available to buy equipment, real estate, and machinery.

Grants for Farmers and Agriculture

The government offers loan guarantees and grants to agri producers to help them improve their market exposure and increase sales. There are provincial programs such as the Agri-Food Market Development Program which offers financial assistance to manufacturers in New Brunswick. Assistance is offered to applicants in 6 different categories: food harvest fundraising, market groups and organizations, market launch and product development, agri-tourism, promotion, and road signage. Applicants are asked to provide information such as additional sources of financing, amount required, total cost, and planned expenditures.

Other Types of Financial Assistance

There are other types of assistance under programs such as the Access-Ability Program and the Aboriginal Economic Development Fund, among others. The Access-Ability Program, for example, offers subsidies to businesses that employ individuals with disabilities. The Alberta Media Fund has a different focus in that it is available to media producers and outlets that produce recordings and films or publish magazines and books. Eligible applicants are offered grants to help them meet programing and operating costs and expenses. Only media producers that are in good standing qualify for assistance. There are also applied research and development grants available to applicants who work in cooperation with Canadian educational institutions to develop clean technologies. The amount of the grant depends on the total cost of the project. Grants of up to $150,000 are offered to applicants who are willing to cover at least 50 percent of the total project cost.

See also here for student car loans and here for different financial resources.