Landed in Canada, a new land of opportunity, but where do you go first? Myself, I needed to put down a plan, a guideline to move forward, a template to follow.
Having a corporate management background, I put on my thinking cap. My plan would have to be as strategic as when I was leading a team that re-engineered a 4,000 strong organization some years ago. Simply put, it was going to be my 30/60/90 day plan for Canada.
The first 30 The first 30 days, I decided, were going to be spent primarily putting all my ducks in a row: opening a bank account, applying for a credit card, and getting my SIN number, driving licence, cell phone, internet, calling cards and such formalities. And, I realized, I needed to understand the terrain that I was operating in — the lay of the land. A transit pass and a flask of hot coffee and I was equipped for the days to come. Every morning, I would get ready and leave the house at 8:30 a.m. and catch the TTC — no book to read, no iPod to listen to and no cell phone to talk on; I was out with a mission. The mission? To map out the lay of the land of Toronto, with a city map as my only companion. I spent three to four hours those initial days going up one end of the subway to the other, getting familiar with the route. Soon my confidence grew and I ventured out and connected on a bus route crisscrossing the city, getting familiar with the place I now had to call home. My eyes and ears were open, taking in the ambience, watching how life went on by and listening to a multitude of languages and variety of English accents. Occasionally, I would get an opportunity to speak to a fellow passenger and that would add to my knowledge of the terrain around me.
Yes, this was the first 30, as any general worth his salt would do — understanding the terrain before deploying your troops.
The next 30 Now that I was a little familiar with the landscape, the next 30 days would begin my personal networking campaign. I had identified several networking groups during my initial month and now it was time to reach out. My initial homework was done online and connectivity was one of my initial investments as it allowed me 24 hours access to the internet. Then I ventured out and physically attended the networking meetings assessing several things — who were the members, what was their background, what were they looking for, how could I leverage my skills, how often did they meet, did I get a warm vibe and was it expensive? The answers helped me select a few that were closer to my field and my area of expertise. And then I began to get involved. Someone once told me, “If you are taking the trouble to belong to a group, give it all you have.” So, I did not sit in the back row nor waited for things to happen. I put up my hand, got involved and ensured that I made a mark there. Giving back is also an integral part of networking and so I volunteered my time and my aptitude to the groups I was involved in. I made friends, got involved with their events and began to slowly shape up a brand personality for myself. Gautam Nath soon was moving away from being a mere statistic and an unknown face to a human being with a face and a name and a slowly growing network of Canadians who were beginning to see what I could offer.
At the end of my 60 days, I was offered a marketing advisory role in two organizations, albeit on a voluntary basis. But this helped me build my Canadian experience.
The final 30 The next 30 days of my 90-day target was all about meeting more and more people. My confidence grew as I volunteered my time and my understanding with the ways of life here became more familiar. I travelled outside the city when I could and slowly was able to see differences between Toronto and some other smaller towns like Kitchener, Waterloo, Kingston, Hamilton and Georgetown. I even got to Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver. And, surely, by the end of my 90 days, I had met many people — not all but some were in relation to finding a job, and I was soon in serious dialogue with the president of a well-regarded Canadian firm, one that would take me into their fold for the next two years. My 30/60/90 day plan for Canada worked! And that was just the beginning … more about my journey next month.
Cairo-born Gautam Nath is partner at Monsoon Communications and serves on several boards and committees across Toronto. He is also one of the Top 25 Canadian Immigrants of 2011.