No matter where you’re heading, getting ready for an assignment is never an easy task. With countless details to attend to, there’s often little time for anything beyond the basics.
But host country networking — often overlooked until after the move – can be just as important as shipping your household goods. Taking the time to establish connections in advance can help ensure a smoother transition, both socially and professionally, and provide an additional level of local knowledge, help, and support.
Ideally, the networking process begins about three months before departure and involves planning, connecting, and following up.
Step one, planning, consists of creating a list of local organizations in the host location. Examples of these include:
- Chambers of commerce and business councils
- Trade councils, consulates, and the embassy
- Alumni networks
- Places of worship
- Rotary, Lion, Junior Chamber of Commerce, and other global network organizations
- Linkedin Groups (e.g., Italians in Albania, Albanians in Italy)
- Facebook groups – similar to the above
- com groups
If you’re from a small country like Iceland, you might also consider adding similar countries’ organizations and groups to your list. Look through their members’ groups and note the people you would like to meet.
Once you compile the above list, create a calendar overview of upcoming events for these organizations. Look for a week with as many relevant events as possible, register for them, and book a trip (without family members) for a week of networking.
Next, contact the heads or organizers of the events you plan to attend and tell them a bit about yourself. Ask if they’d suggest meeting anyone in particular, such as another expat from your country, for instance. You can also request the attendee list for these events, check profiles on Linkedin, and make a list of people you’d like to meet.
Your next step is attending these events. Once you arrive, seek out the organizer to introduce yourself and ask if he or she would make introductions. After each event, be sure to follow up with your new connections and take them up on any offers for further introductions, second meetings, information, and ways for you to help.
Once you’ve arrived in the host country and settled in, it won’t be long before you, too, can be a resource for other new arrivals!
By Jesper Løvendahl, CEO, ExpatRide International