It is always beneficial to have a good network in place. Here is how you can build yours.
10 July 2018| Last updated on 11 July 2018
Most, if not all expats go abroad because they received a new opportunity in a different country and was lured away in the hope of a better life, new opportunities or a better salary. The move is usually a great opportunity improving some things and leaving others the same. One thing that will however change, is your network. Your whole network will remain back in your home country, leaving you having to re-establish a new one. If you are an expat then you are most likely familiar with this feeling of starting fresh in a foreign country and not knowing anyone there.
A professional network shouldn't be confused with friendships (although some do develop into a friendship) but should rather be seen as a way that you can help each other in your work and career. There is a saying that goes: “It isn’t what you know, but who you know.” No matter where in the world you might find yourself, knowing the right people will open a number of opportunities for you.
There are many ways to network while you are abroad and we have compiled some of the best ways. Even if your business is just an idea at the moment, it is great to network as an expat to get a feel for how your business might be received.
Meetup is a website that is worldwide and is pretty well known. You can search for things that are of interest to you, get notifications and attend the meetups. Most of them are free or ask for a small attendance fee and it gets you out meeting new people. Speed networking, business breakfasts and women networking are a couple of the meetups that are available but these are just a teaser of everything that is available.
You will find like-minded people at these meetups. We would suggest though that you need to really involve yourself in the group, offer to speak or assist. Also make sure you keep attending. Once off attendance to these events does not always build the community that you may hope to build.
Part of networking is to always look for an opportunity to meet new people. however difficult it might be. One of those opportunities is other parents, if you are a parent yourself. The school is a brilliant place to meet people who may be interested in your line of business.
Don't fret if you are not a parent, schools are a great place to provide talks to or pitch ideas to as schools are often innovative and enjoy new initiatives.
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BNI stands for Business Networking International. This is an interesting, formal, driven and costly networking group. The group is international and you can find all the details online and find a group near you, I do believe that it can be very successful for the right person doing this and is probably the best way to build your business quickly if you are able to put the funds and the time supporting the other businesses. However if you are just venturing out to test the market, the other options might be more suitable.
Join activities or clubs that you enjoy or are related to your business. There is so much to do once you start exploring and putting yourself out there that the list is endless. Be part of those worlds in the things you enjoy and you will find like-minded people and grow networks of beneficial contacts.
Hints and tips on how to keep a healthy mind in networking
- Say yes to opportunities as although you may think the event isn’t for you, something great might come from it. You’ll also get to know your way around your city a little more, which is always a great asset.
- Many people network hard and fast. Be ok with people not wanting to become friends but clearly wanting only your networking possibilities.
- Not all groups will work for you, don’t be disheartened by that. It only helps shape your understanding of who you do want to be networking with.
- Try to go a number of times to build up the trust in the groups you are attending. Networking takes time to build so keep going at it. It is easy to give up when nothing comes of anything for a few weeks.
- Talk to friends about your dreams or business, it is so often that they can point you towards networking events too.
- Most importantly, hold onto your dream, idea, business. You have the power to make it work.