It’s who you know: Free seminar on networking

Toronto Star
October 27, 2008

Nicholas Keung
Immigration/Diversity Reporter

The beauty of professional networking is you never know when the seed you sow is going to take root and flourish.

Ask Toronto’s Melwyn D’Costa, who arrived from Mumbai, India, three years ago.

The advertising executive, with an MBA and 12 years of account management experience, had volunteered at the Institute of Communications and Advertising and helped run a group for foreign-trained advertising and marketing professionals.

Still, no job was in sight.

Out of desperation, in 2006, he attended a Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council’s workshop with renowned motivational speaker Mike Lipkin, which months later led him to his first “real” marketing job in Canada.

“Finding a job is based on who you know,” D’Costa said in an interview. “Opportunities happen when you meet people.”

Lipkin, president of Environics/Lipkin, will partner with the council again and return to this year’s free workshop, The Power of Networking, on Saturday. The event also includes roundtable discussions between immigrant job-hunters and employers, regulators and professional associations in such fields as engineering, health care, accounting, engineering and information technology.

Through Lipkin’s introduction, D’Costa met with officials at Rotman School of Management and was ultimately hired to do marketing and business development projects there. “With all the seeds that you sow, one is going to take root,” said D’Costa, who just completed his two-year contract and is looking for another opportunity.

Lipkin, who moved here from South Africa in 2001, said his six-step model helps newcomers set goals, learn to promote their skills, come up with strategies to find “the right opportunity,” develop a plan to associate with the right people and execute the plan. “I can’t wave a magic wand but these are important steps.”

“The vast majority of jobs come through networks such as friends and families. Newcomers are at a disadvantage when they first arrive,” said Elizabeth McIsaac, of the employment council.

The council’s mentoring program, launched in 2006, has already matched 3,500 skilled immigrants with professionals in Canada. Eighty per cent of the participants managed to find work three months after completing the program, 85 per cent in a related field.

For information on the workshop, visit

Reference: Toronto Star