We all know that building your network is something that people are always talking about. In this day and age, networking has become even more essential to career growth.
What are the reasons for building a network? Well, if you’re comfortable in your job and you think you’ll stay in the same role until retirement, I suppose you wouldn’t have much of a need to network.
But this is not the description of most people nowadays. People are moving from job to job faster than ever, and “The Great Resignation” means that more and more people are going off on their own and starting businesses.
“The Great Resignation” – the trend in which massive numbers of people are quitting their jobs and developing a business or a career as a freelancer.
Especially if you’re an expat who is working or doing business abroad, it’s essential to build your network, since you’re starting from scratch in a new place.
So how can you build a network as a newcomer? To build connections in a new city in a foreign country it takes a little bit of effort, but it’s not difficult. Keep reading to find out how!
As a first step, it’s always good to go through people you know, and build a network through your existing network, however small that network is in the beginning. You can even build a network through ONE person, which is what I did when I first moved to Italy in 2004.
Beyond personal connections, you can make friends and grow your network through websites and groups that help connect people with the local community.
In this article, you will learn a great deal of valuable information about networking:
Practical Tips for Building Your Network
Let’s start with some practical tips you can start using today to build your network.
Here are some networking habits and principles that work anywhere in the world to help you get connected to new people, whether you’re an expat or building your network in your home country.
1. Attend conferences.
I normally make it a rule to attend at least 3 conferences per year, 2 of which are in-person, and maybe 1 of which is online. Of course, face-to-face events are more effective for building your network.
When you attend conferences, you’ll be surrounded by like-minded people who you’ll be able to make connections with. Make sure you carry your business cards or a digital business card.
If you want to go green, ditch the paper, and appear technologically savvy, create a QR code that leads to a link tree which includes all your social media profile links.
Tip: Create a QR code to a link tree with all your social media profile links
2. Go to trainings.
Trainings offer great chances to meet like-minded people who could either lead you to opportunities, or provide opportunities themselves. I have met people at trainings who hired me in the future for multiple projects. This means that whatever I spent on the training, more than paid for itself in just a short time.
3. Have an online presence.
What I mean by this is appearing on social media regularly, to show your audience who you are and what you’re doing, thinking about, reading about, or working on. I recommend choosing 2-3 platforms to focus on, so you don’t overwhelm yourself, and you can focus well on building them.
If you’re networking for career purposes, LinkedIn is of course the way to go.
By the way, as a side note, sometimes people ask me if it’s acceptable to send connection requests to people you don’t know. Nowadays, absolutely yes. It is acceptable to request new contacts on LinkedIn that you don’t actually know personally.
It is, of course, more logical if you try to connect with people that are in the same field as yours, in the same LinkedIn groups as you, or people who are connected with people you are already connected to.
Tip : Choose 2-3 social platforms to focus on.
4. Attend networking events.
5. Stay in touch with people you know.
Make it a point to contact the people in your network, on a regular basis. You may want to make a rule for yourself for this.
For example, one person per day, or 10 per month, or whatever works for you. What I have found is that sometimes when I contact people randomly, they may say out of the blue, “hey I saw an interesting opportunity that you should apply for!”
One time, I contacted a friend I hadn’t seen in about a year, and she told me there was a position open in her department at the time, which I subsequently applied for, and got hired!
And don’t forget, The secret to effective networking is staying in touch with people when you don’t need them.
For a video that explains all my practical networking tips and techniques, click below ⬇️⬇️⬇️
How to Have Effective Networking Conversations
Now that we have discussed the practical tips for getting connected with new contacts, now let’s talk about the actual conversations you will have with people you meet in networking situations. How can you make sure people will want to keep you in their network?
The following are some very simple tips for how to lead effective networking conversations. They are easy guidelines you can follow to build rapport with people instantly, which can work in any situation when you meet people for the first time, and want to leave a good impression.
- Listen well to people, use active listening techniques, and show genuine interest in what they are saying. Nobody wants to network with people who are not paying attention, or are just waiting for the next chance to talk about themselves.
- Remember names and use them. If you forget, don’t be afraid to ask for their name again. One trick is to say, “Can you tell me the spelling of your name? I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn…”
- Don’t talk about yourself too much. This kind of universally turns people off. It’s okay to explain a little bit about who you are and your accomplishments, but be careful of saying too much that may seem like you are boasting, and might intimidate the other person.
- If you know something about someone’s endeavors, offer advice which is encouraging and positive. Offer to connect them with people who could help them in some way. Remember that networking is not just about YOU meeting people,* it’s also about you helping others build their networks by connecting them to people YOU know.
Networking is not just about you meeting people, it’s also about you helping others!
- Get their contact information and don’t forget to follow up shortly after meeting them. Connect with them on social media, interact with their posts, and continue building the professional relationship.
The Best Networking Websites for Expats
Last but not least, let’s have a look at the websites that I have been using for networking over the last 20 years of living in different countries around the world. They are the web resources which I have found essential for meeting new people and building my network in each new place I lived.
Internations is an international organization for expatriates with a chapter in most major cities around the world. You can find out about doing business, expat life, housing costs, culture, professional networking opportunities, and much more. Sign-up is free, but Albatross membership requires an annual fee and gives you privileged access to certain events.
One example is, while living in Saudi Arabia I joined the “Outdoor Adventure Group” within the Internations Jeddah chapter, and went on a desert hike with like 65 people from different countries around the world. It was an amazing experience, and a great way to start my expat journey in Saudi Arabia.
“Outdoor Adventure Group”
Internations Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Meetup lists events, both in-person and virtual, all around the world. You can also sign up for groups according to your interests. It’s free, but the events that the groups host may have costs involved.
One example is, when I was in Dubai I attended a “Speed Business Networking“ event, and a “Dubai Vegans“ dinner, both of which were very fruitful experiences for meeting people and learning about business as well as expat life in Dubai.
This is a website which hosts many events, both virtual and in-person.
LinkedIn and Facebook Groups
Every city of the world has special-interest groups for expats doing business and working abroad. Just search for groups like “Business in (city/country)” and “Expats in (city/country)” and you will find several options.
LinkedIn and Facebook Groups
Search for “Business in (city/country)” or “Expats in (city/country)”
Ex. “Expats in Korea” and “Expats in Seoul”
For example, when I was living in Seoul, Korea, I joined the “Expats in Korea” and “Expats in Seoul” Facebook groups, through which I was able to build my network and get answers to a lot of my questions.
Then, last but not least, be sure to check with:
Your country’s embassy or consulate.
Often these will have social events, holiday parties, networking events, and special interest events like entrepreneurs’ meetings, ladies coffee mornings, charity fundraising events, and more.
For a video that explains all of my tips for networking as an expat, click here
Even if you have interests and hobbies, you can learn more and hone your skills if you develop a network. If I wanted to explain to you why I’m a big fan of building a network, well I have changed careers, jobs, and countries, more times than I can count.
I would never have been able to find jobs across the globe if I didn’t have a network. Even If your network doesn’t directly help you find the next opportunity, you may learn things from your network which lead you in the right direction.
I wish you all the best of luck for building your network and career possibilities. Have any tips for networking, favorite networking websites, or questions? Feel free to post below. Keep watching this blog for more tips and insights into working and living abroad, intercultural skills, and expat business.
Founder of Cheryl Obal & Associates
Cheryl Obal & Associates is a cross-cultural training and consulting company that helps businesses improve their cross-cultural competence.
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