Networking to Advance your Tourism Career
As the saying goes, it’s not about what you know, but who you know. Many jobs are landed through personal connections and networking. It also helps advance your career in tourism. But what if the thought of mingling with a room full of strangers feels too intimidating? The good news is that the art of networking can be learned. With some practice and preparation, you can be successfully “working the room” and enjoying it.
What is Successful Networking?
In a nutshell, it’s about building meaningful relationships, taking time to meet with people, and ultimately expanding your circle. While online networking and job search has its place, personal networking, combined with online is most effective. Following are a few tips to get you started:
- Set goals – Before you network, determine your short-term and long-term goals. Are you looking to find that first career job, switch employers, or find a mentor? A short-term goal could be to meet three new people at an event and then follow up with a call or meeting.
- Be Professional – Ensure that your resume, LinkedIn profile, and other social media profiles are professional, up to date and aligned with the corporate culture you are targeting.
- Pay it Forward – Successful networkers know that it is equally about helping others connect and build their careers. The first rule of networking is to start a conversation, not an elevator pitch. Start by asking the other person about themselves and their business; this can lead to an opportunity to share how you can help them.
- Be Present – While it may be tempting to constantly check your emails or texts, try to avoid the temptation. Instead, take a look around and observe. If you know the event organizer or other influencers in the room, ask for introductions. If you don’t know anyone, read body language and target individuals or small groups when looking to join a conversation. Avoid spending too much time with friends or colleagues, find someone you don’t know and say hello.
- Stay in Touch – This should go without saying, but follow-up is essential. Ask for a meeting, informational interview, or go for a coffee. Send thank you notes where appropriate. Then stay in touch – it could be by sending a relevant link to an article on a topic you discussed, or something relevant to their business.
Find Networking Opportunities
Luckily there are many opportunities to network in tourism no matter where you are located in BC. The go2HR calendar of events is a great place to start your research. Post-secondary students may benefit from alumni connections and networking events; inquire at your school to learn more.
Tourism Associations – There are associations representing each sector of tourism from hotels and restaurants, to outdoor recreation, snow sports, event planning and more. These groups host a variety of local and provincial meetings and events, you can find an extensive list of links on go2HR’s Resources and Links webpage, and on Destination BC’s website. The Tourism Industry Association of BC represents the industry as a whole, and has events posted on their website. Indigenous Tourism BC is also an excellent resource to explore.
Destination Marketing Organizations – There are many opportunities to network with local, regional and provincial destination marketing organizations. In partnership with Destination BC, BC’s provincial destination marketing organization, there are six tourism regions managed by Regional Destination Marketing Organizations. There are also community partners that promote tourism in smaller communities.
General Business Networking – Additionally, you can look for more general business networking groups and opportunities on websites such as LinkedIn or Meetup. If you are located in the Vancouver area, Networking in Vancouver is a good resource. Local Chambers of Commerce can also provide excellent networking opportunities.
The last word on networking is to be patient. Results do take time and ongoing effort but will pay back exponentially as you advance up the ladder in your career – just keep on networking!