Fellow Expatriate, do you consider yourself a good Networker?
The official definition of Networking is the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically : the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.
Whether your expatriation was planned or not, the simple fact of living and working overseas exposes you to new people and situations every day and most of the time these are situations that you would not experience in your own country.
Over the years of my expatriation, I became a better networker. In this post I would like to explore a little bit the reasons why I feel that I am a better networker now than I was 15 years ago. I came up with 5 reasons how my status of Expat has forged me to become the networker I am today. Here are my findings:
1 – Good at introducing ourselves
In general, we have our “elevator speech” well prepared. There isn’t a day when I don’t get ask where I am from and why I live in Argentina. So from day one, I got used to introduce myself or answer the same question over and over again. Now I am able to give a concise description of myself or my background depending on the interlocutor, from the taxi driver to a new business contact. Even if I am involved in a number of different industries and projects, I always try to make it easy for others to understand me in a nutshell.
2- Don’t hesitate to join new groups and meet new people
By circumstances, expats will make new friends, meet new neighbours, work with new colleagues or create new business contacts in their professional and social activities and this makes us more sociable in general.
3 – Offer introductions
As expats, we know how important support groups are and therefore lack of connections. I often noticed expats making full advantage of their network by offering to make introductions. This is also a good way to flatter your expat friends by taking the time to introduce them to a new group of people and vice-versa with your local friends.
4 – Able to embrace a different culture
Living abroad, whether it is your first experience or not, will make you more open toward the culture of the country where you live and more inclined to study that new culture. Even if you don’t know the language, you will be confronted to your new culture on a daily basis and little by little, what seemed very strange at the beginning will become second nature after a matter of months. Your ability to deal with culture shock will certainly help you embrace your new culture. Being able to help others overcome it or on the contrary to ask locals about specific issues will greatly improve your communication skills and networking abilities.
5 – Don’t necessarily talk business on a first meeting but certainly leave our details (or business card!)
Making new contacts outside of our usual circles are pointless if they are not follow up. For example, being the only foreigner at a party has often allowed me to make a lot of connections, however, depending on the local culture, business networking may not have been the right time so I always made sure to take contact details or leave my business card to be able to follow up later on.
Do you consider yourself a good networker? Can you see other reasons apart from the 5 above that make you a better networker than you were before living abroad?
I would love to hear from you! Please leave your comments below and share this article.
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