As you prepare to set off from your home country to come to Canada as a newcomer, you may be feeling a little nervous. Don’t worry, as soon as I got my confirmation of permanent residence I felt the same way. One thing that I was particularly concerned about was how I was going to make a good first impression with my neighbors and my colleagues. With just a little bit of research, I was able to find out as much as I could about Canadian culture.
First impressions as an immigrant are important
As a newcomer to Canada, you will find that you are meeting new people all the time. I found this to be a little scary at first, but after a few social events, I grew very confident in my elevator pitch. If you are unfamiliar with what an elevator pitch is it’s a short two-minute introduction about yourself. Once you have this ready to go you will be able to clearly and confidently introduce yourself in any situation. You should practice this a little so you know what you are going to say when someone inevitably asks you where you’re from and how you came to Canada.
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Here are some other great tips for making the best first impression possible when you meet people in Canada.
- Wear clean and tidy clothing. Buy clothing that works well together, and easily mix and match.
- Wear clothes that are the right size and style for your body, and suitable for the occasion.
- Clean, shined shoes are a must.
- Always be groomed properly by showering, using deodorant, and having clean nails, neat hair and appropriate makeup.
- Eye contact is valued in Canada as a sign of paying attention, focusing and showing respect.
- Have good posture and stand straight during introductions and when shaking hands.
- Be aware of your non-verbal cues such as body language and facial expressions. Make an effort to smile!
- Be attentive to your choice of words by being positive and supportive.
- Be courteous and respectful to others and yourself.
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The business lunch
Depending on which industry you’re in you may find that you are invited out to business lunches. At my first job in Canada, I had to go to lots of these. I actually got to quite like them as even though we did talk a lot about business, there is also a relaxed social component to the lunch as well. Being a newcomer to Canada actually helped me as it was something I could talk about with ease. As with anything that I have done in Canada, practice makes perfect.
Here are some great tips to ensure that your first few business lunches in Canada as a newcomer go well:
- Choose a restaurant or location that is convenient for both of you.
- Make reservations.
- Confirm with both the restaurant and your lunch date a couple of days before.
- Arrive earlier and wait for your party before you take your seat.
- Food is not a priority here; do not experiment on a new or messy dish such as lobster. Order something simple, light and easy to eat.
- Make your client or colleague feel comfortable to indulge in a cocktail or wine, but refrain if they decide to pass. If you’re meeting with a potential employer, don’t drink.
- Wait on the topic of business until you have ordered. Engage in small talk first. This is the opportunity to get to know them, to build trust and improve your relationship.
- No cell phones on the table; do not text or even glance at your phone.
- Be mindful of your cutlery; work your way from outside in toward your dish. The butter dish is on the left and drinks are on the right.
- Put your napkin on your lap, and do not point or gesture with your cutlery. Chew with your mouth closed and no talking with your mouth full. Use your best table manners!
- Pay the bill with your credit card, as it is usually the simplest and most professional looking. Servers will typically ask if you will be splitting the bill.
Remember that you need to always put your best foot forward as you may be competing against people who are already well established and are comfortable with Canadian workplace culture and social etiquette. The trick is to stay positive and be as confident as possible.
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