Halifax, Canada

Making Connections

Halifax Partnership

March 1, 2019

Business needs talent. Talent needs opportunity. A networking program completes the equation.

Many highly skilled immigrants face a common challenge when looking for work – a lack of business connections and networks. How can communities help newcomers quickly overcome this hurdle? By connecting them with established business, government and community leaders in their industries.

Connecting Immigrants and Industry

The Halifax Partnership – Halifax, Nova Scotia’s economic development organization – created the Connector Program to address this challenge. Robyn Webb, Director of Labour Market Development, spearheaded the initiative in 2009. At the time, she saw a wealth of skilled immigrants who were struggling to find work in the city, while businesses were facing chronic labour shortages. She saw an opportunity to connect these two groups through what she calls ‘intentional networking’.

“A lot of small businesses don’t have an HR person,” Webb explains. “So how do they mitigate the risk when they’re hiring? By reaching out to a trusted person they know and saying, ‘do you know someone who would be a good fit for this position?”

Webb adds that referrals make all the difference for newcomers as well. “It’s not enough to simply apply for a job online or hand your resume out to employers. It’s also about who you know in the community.”

The Connector Program is an effective solution that helps both employers and immigrants through a simple Match, Connector, Refer process that:

  1. Taps into a willingness among knowledgeable business and community leaders who volunteer as Connectors to share their professional networks with newcomers (Connectees);
  2. Facilitates interactions between Connectors and newcomers through 30-minute meetings and networking events;
  3. Provides immigrants with opportunities to learn about the local job market, build a business network through referrals, and improve their job search and networking skills; and
  4. Helps industry professionals meet pre-qualified talent that may be a fit for their business or a contact in their network.

“The most important thing is that each Connector agrees to provide the newcomer with three referrals in their business network,” Webb explains. “The Connectee meets with those three new people and before long they’ve met 12 contacts in the local business community who have provided insight into the local job market and potential career opportunities.”

A Multiplier Effect

The Connector Program was designed to meet recruitment and retention goals by building and expanding networks between newcomers to Halifax and established members of the community. Because Connectors are employers as well as established community members and business leaders, when the professional network of the newcomer grows, so does the potential job pool for the Connector.

This multiplier works both ways: addressing local labour market needs by enriching the local talent pool available to employers while connecting newcomers with opportunities to contribute and settle in their new community. The Program has ambitious objectives: to raise awareness and change perceptions on the benefits of hiring immigrants; help newcomers establish a professional network and find employment in their field; connect local employers to skilled, employment-ready newcomers; and establish Halifax as a welcoming city and make it the destination of choice for talent.

After meeting with newcomers interested in the insurance industry, one local executive commented: “I met a group of very bright, focused and keen young men and women who see a positive future for Nova Scotia. I’ll be chatting with my contacts in the local insurance industry this week.”

For Prasad Ranay, a Connector program participant: “For me, being a person from outside of Halifax it makes a lot of sense for the initial touch and contact with the community. It’s expanded my network as well as expanded my skills and reach in the community.”


The Connector Program has proven to be a model that works. After its initial success connecting immigrants in Halifax, it was expanded to include local and international post-secondary graduates. Networking events like #HireMEHalifax make the most of an evening of networking, live pitches, and youth hiring resources.

The proof is in the numbers. Over the past 10 years, the program has engaged over 1,000 volunteer Connectors to meet with more than 3,000 Connectees. As a result, over 1,200 Connectees have found jobs in their fields.

The Connector Program is now innovating and expanding even more. On March 20, 2019, with support from the Province of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada, the Halifax Partnership is launching Connector+, a digital networking platform that will create more opportunities for industry leaders to meet young professionals in Nova Scotia. The goal is to connect 3,500 post-secondary graduates in the first two years.

While focused on expanding the reach and success of the Halifax program, Webb also spends much of her time sharing the Connector model with communities around the world experiencing similar labour force challenges.

Today, there are over 35 Canadian and international communities that have replicated the face-to-face program with help from the National Connecter Program led by the Halifax Partnership. Following the Connector+ pilot in Nova Scotia, Webb hopes to roll this new digital model out to National Connector communities.

To learn more about the Connector Program visit

The Connector Program has been recognized by the Conference Board of Canada and the International Economic Development Council.

Originally published 2013; updated March 2019.

This Good Idea was featured in the “Marketplace of Good Ideas” at the 2014 Cities of Migration conference in Berlin. Learn more about the conference.

Making it Work for You:

  • Keep it simple. Sometimes complex challenges are best met with simple, but effective solutions.
  • Your business community is probably busy. Make it easy for them to participate by keeping their time commitment low and emphasizing the ROI [return on investment] of their participation.
  • Be true to your local business culture. In a world of high-tech tools and toys, a tendency may be to take things virtual. If your business is done face-to-face, so should your networking.
  • Success comes from working across sectors and industries. If employment access and labour market prosperity are your goals, you will need to build broad community support and partnerships.
  • Track connections to gather feedback, measure results and make improvements succeed.


Pour cette bonne idée, contacter:

Robyn Webb, Halifax Partnership
1969 Upper Water Street
Purdy's Tower II, Suite 2101
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada,
B3J 3R7

National Connector Program 2015