Talent Development Centre

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All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to industry association.

The Importance of Networking

Jeremy Mason By Jeremy Mason,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

When you talk about “6 Degree of Separation”, it really resonates within the IT Staffing Industry.  Over the past 17 years, I’ve been fortunate to have met some extremely intelligent and interesting Independent Contractors.  People from all walks of life, yet each person has one thing in common: IT (Information Technology).

The Staffing Industry has an enormous network and a large group within that network is IT contractors.  While almost everyone does some work to build new connections, I’m always surprised at how many independent contractors don’t do more to network with recruiters and other contractors.

Why should you network?

Networking is extremely important now more than ever. It allows you to both ensure a steady stream of work and share something in common with your peers.  You already Putting pieces together to solve a problemknow (or should know) that by building and maintaining relationships with recruiters across the staffing industry, you’ll be top-of-mind for opportunities and the first phone call they make when a new contract opens up.  But building a network of other independent contractors in your field is equally important.  These professionals can be your best support system when working on projects. Those new to independent contracting learn quickly that when you go out on your own, you lose the resources you once had when you were an employee.  Suddenly you no longer have your “go-to” group of people when you encounter a roadblock.   Your best option is to have your own network of other professionals you can call on for help.

How do you build that network?

The easiest way is to get active with Industry Associations, User Groups, and Community Portals.  For example, check out your local CIPS Chapter.  CIPS is an association of IT professionals and offers networking opportunities, certifications and accreditations.  Also, keep your eyes open for invitations to networking events. Many staffing companies including Eagle, often host events where you can meet like-minded people. Bottom line, make space in your agenda for networking events and practice your networking skills.  Many networking tips have been posted in the Talent Development Centre.

What about maintaining your network?

The problem is that we can forget these great connections.  Life gets busy and we all forget to ‘keep in touch’, but we should make an effort not only to build, but maintain our networks.  Whether you are an Independent Contractor, or working within the Staffing Industry, it’s important to remember to reach out to the people you’ve met along the way and reconnect.  Have conversations, touch base, or grab a coffee.  You’d be amazed to find out where people have landed since you last met.  In the staffing industry, recruiters improve their networks by getting involved with associations, picking up the phone and setting time aside each day to call old contacts.  Independent contractors can do the same thing. Set some time aside (once a month is fine) and speak to the like-minded contractors and recruiters you’ve dealt with in the past; they will appreciate hearing from you!

Do you have a network of recruiters and other contractors?  What sources have you used to build it?  Share your experiences below and help other contractors grow their networks.

Networking Within Your Industry

A common trait among most successful people within almost any industry is that they spend some time developing relationships with their competitors and others within the industry.  It’s obviously not the only thing they have in common and isn’t the number one focus, but it should be a high priority.

This is no different for independent contractors. Networking with other contractors in your field, even those who you’re directly competing with for work, can bring significant value.


  1. Very often the biggest challenges contractors face come from outside, whether it is evolving technologies, changing client landscapes, unethical agencies, or just the independent contractors working togethereffects of regulatory change.  There are plenty of common issues to talk about.
  2. Without ever talking about your secrets to winning business, it is interesting to talk about the general challenges of being an independent contractor, with people who have similar issues.
  3. There is a need for independent contractors to talk about “Best Practices” in order to preserve/grow or influence the external perception of contractors.  This can only be achieved by leaders adopting a common approach.
  4. There is a good chance you’ll have to work with another contractor and possibly need to negotiate a partnership. It is much easier to be able to pick up the phone and have a frank discussion with someone you already have an existing relationship.
  5. Being a Subject Matter Expert in a field comes with a lot of benefits but takes a level of trust and respect that can only be achieved by getting to know others, and allowing them to get to know you.
  6. When the time comes to partnering on a contract, it is much better to know people who are those trustworthy, ethical and capable professionals that you would choose to work with!

The number one rule is that the relationship needs to be an ethical one, one that preserves the integrity of each other’s business while working towards a better industry.  It is not really that hard, certainly nothing to shy away from, and will almost definitely open up more opportunities.

Are you networking enough in your industry?  Could you use more networking opportunities or advice?  Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to help!

Is Your Staffing Company Involved in its Industry?

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President, Western Canada at Eagle

The temporary labour/contract staffing industry has several industry associations.  They range from general staffing associations such as ACSESS (Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services) to associations based on a more specific subset of the overall industry like the NACCB (National Association of Computer Consulting Businesses).  As a basic foundation, these organizations represent the interests of the companies that comprise the industry and they set guidelines for industry best practices, business ethics and they will interface with other organizations (such as the Canadian Federal and Provincial governments) to ensure the market for human resources remains open for member organizations, Canadian businesses and workers (temporary or otherwise) alike.

NACCB and ACSESS logosNot all staffing companies belong to industry organizations and even fewer take an active role.  Why would this be important to incorporated contractors, sole proprietors and temporary workers?  Why should you care?

Well, I’m glad you asked!

By working with or through a staffing company that is directly and actively involved in Industry Associations, there are the following benefits:

  • They agree to operate to a higher standard – Industry Associations are quite prescriptive in how they expect companies to behave.  By becoming a member, staffing companies agree to a strict set of guidelines, standards and business ethics.
  • They are open to new ideas and are committed to improving their capability and services over time.  Industry Associations provide professional training and business development courses for their membership.  They work together to stay on the forefront of new trends so that they (and the contractor partners that they represent) remain relevant in the changing market.
  • They influence Canada’s employment rules and business environment through their work with government departments and committees.  They take part in business conferences and influence educational programming by providing relevant market data points for colleges and universities.  Through member companies, your collective voices are heard by organizations and institutions that matter.
  • They are up on the changing legal landscape.  Things like Deemed Co-Employment and Personal Services Businesses that directly impact the contractor community are better understood and, through sheer force of numbers, their messages are heard by policy makers.  Industry Associations are currently lobbying the government, seeking clarity for contract workers with respect to PSB policy.  Through clarity, Canada’s contract workforce will be able to make adjustments to reduce risk.  Industry Associations are taking the lead in this process to benefit all contractors.

Eagle takes our corporate citizenship very seriously.  We have been and continue to be extremely active contributors to ACSESS (Eagle’s CEO is on the board and has been a past President) and the NACCB (Eagle’s President is also the current President of the NACCB).  In addition, our President is a founding member of the Canadian Coalition for Tomorrow’s ICT Skills (CCICT) and Eagle’s Vice-President of Government Services sits on the Informatics Professional Services Advisory Committee for the Federal Government.  Our company is also a member of a variety of industry organizations including the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).  Because we know the importance of all of these organizations, we take every opportunity to educate the market as to their value and we encourage the participation of our peers.  In return, this promotes the standards and ethics in our industry and has positive effects on independent contractors across the country.

How much priority do you place on your agency’s industry involvement?  Do you think that you might consider it more often when choosing your agency?  Tell us why or why not, we’d love to get your opinion!