By Jessica Marcotte, Director of Build ON 

Moving to a new country can be both exciting and challenging. One of the most important things to do when you arrive is to start building a network of people who can help you and support you to succeed and feel welcome. This blog will give you some easy tips on how to network and make friends as a newcomer in Canada. Not only will these strategies help you once you are in Canada, most can be implemented virtually before you arrive.
1. Smile and Say Hello
One of the simplest ways to start networking is to smile and say hello to people you meet. When you are at school, the grocery store, the park, or in a webinar don't be shy to greet others. A friendly "hello" can open the door to a conversation and maybe even a new friendship. Remember, many people in Canada are welcoming and happy to meet new friends.
2. Join Clubs and Activities
Canada has a lot of clubs and groups where you can meet people who share your interests. Many of these are now connecting online since the pandemic. Whether you like soccer, painting, cooking, or even reading, there's probably a club for it! Joining these clubs is a fantastic way to meet people who already have something in common with you and learn about Canadian culture at the same time. When you're doing something you love, making friends becomes much easier.
3. Attend Community Events
Communities in Canada often organize events such as festivals, fairs, and community gatherings. These events are perfect to meet people, taste new foods, and learn about local customs. Not only is it a fun way to learn about Canadian culture, but a great opportunity  to make new friends at the same time. Despite these activities being mostly in person, you may still be able to find some online.
4. Volunteer
Volunteering means offering your help for free. Volunteering is not only a way to give back to your community but also a wonderful way to meet new people. Look for local or online volunteer opportunities in your area. Whether it's helping out at a food bank, assisting at a school event, libraries, animal shelters, community centers, cleaning up a park, or tutoring someone online, you'll meet like-minded people who share your interest in making the community a better place. Another benefit to volunteering is that your experience can count for Canadian experience. You can include your volunteering experience on your resume.
5. Use Social Media
These days, we can also make friends online. In today's digital age, social media is a powerful tool for connecting with others. Join local community groups on platforms like Facebook or Instagram. You can find events, meetups, and discussions happening nearby. Some cities even have specific online groups for newcomers. You can ask questions, share your experiences, and maybe even find people to meet up with in person. Just be cautious and ensure your online interactions are safe and respectful.
6. Attend Language Classes
If English or French is not your first language, attending language classes can be a fantastic way to improve your communication skills while meeting fellow newcomers. Language classes provide a comfortable environment where you can learn and practice, all while bonding with classmates who are going through a similar experience. Many informal language circles are being held virtually and can be a great way of introducing you to other fellow newcomers.
7. Network at Work or School
If you're attending school or working in Canada, these places are excellent for building connections. Participate in group projects, join after-work activities, or attend workshops. This is a chance to meet people who share your interests and possibly even get guidance from those who have been in Canada for longer.
8. Be a Good Listener
When you meet new people, remember to listen as well as talk. People like when you show interest in what they say. Ask them questions about themselves, like where they are from, what they like to do, and their favorite things about Canada. This will help you connect on a deeper level. People appreciate when they feel heard, and being a good listener can help you build strong connections. Ask questions, share your own stories, and learn about each other.
9. Keep in Touch
Once you've made new friends, it's important to stay in touch. Exchange contact information and try to communicate regularly or meet up again. You can invite them for a coffee, a walk, or to connect over Zoom. Building relationships takes time, and staying connected will help your friendships grow.
10. Be Patient, Persistent and stay positive
Remember, building a network of friends and connections takes time. Don't get discouraged if you don't make friends right away. Be patient and persistent, and keep trying different activities and events. Over time, you'll meet people who you'll connect with, and your network will start to grow.
Lastly, always stay positive! Moving to a new country can be challenging, but it's also a fantastic adventure. Even if you face some bumps along the way, remember that you're growing and learning every day. A positive attitude will attract others and make your networking journey even more enjoyable.
Moving to a new country can be a bit overwhelming, but building a network of friends and connections can make the journey smoother. Everyone has something unique to offer, and by sharing your experiences and learning from others, you'll create a rich and diverse network that will make your Canadian experience even more rewarding.
Remember, the most important thing is to be yourself and stay open to new experiences. With these strategies, you'll soon have a wonderful network of friends who will make Canada feel like your second home.