Dos and don'ts of expat networking

  • networking
Published on 2018-04-03 at 09:00 by Maria Iotova
It's not the first time that you hear about the importance of networking for your professional and social life. However, for your expat life, building meaningful relationships is necessary, if you wish to thrive in your host country. You might be going through a bureaucratic nightmare with your visa, jumping through hoops to make your long-distance relationship work, or spending long hours in the office — yet, don't let these be detrimental to your networking efforts. Depending on who you meet, your life abroad can be very different, as well as your views on your destination. Here is our guide on how to make the most of networking and what to stay away from.

Build long-term relationships

long-term relationships

Some people misunderstand networking for a short-term gain stemming from the exposure one can get right there on the spot of an expat event or a meeting. However, effective networking is more than ensuring the people around you are willing to help you at the drop of a hat — instead, networking must be about rewarding relationships which last. There are several ways to build long-term relationships. First, keep in mind that it takes time and energy (but it pays off) to connect on a personal level with another person. Second, remember that it doesn't end at the party or the restaurant; exchange numbers, email addresses, social media profiles, and keep in touch.

Do your homework

study your network
Bloomicon /

Networking doesn't only require action during the time you spend with others, but it is much more beneficial if you have prepared for your meeting in advance. Especially nowadays, with the convenience of social media at our disposal, researching people's skills and interests online is straightforward. So, if you know that you are going to meet new people in a specific context, ask yourself before: Who's going to be there? What do they do? What can I learn from them? This practice will help you integrate with much more confidence and remarkable networking results.

Be a connector

introducing people

The more people you meet and add to your network, the more people you will be able to help in the future. Our advice is don't keep contacts to yourself, but make connections among them. A competent connector notices all the things that people have in common and their shared interests, and instinctively thinks of ways to bring them together so they can also benefit from each other. Did you meet an interior designer at the last expat event you went to? And now you are here at another event where someone tells you that they want to start a decorating company. What are you waiting for? Make the links between them.

Be open to new experiences

new experiences

Often, to make the most of networking, you will need to get out of your comfort zone as connections don't necessarily happen at the most obvious places and times. For example, if you feel that you need to expand your social network, you may want to undertake a new hobby or join the next outdoors activity in your area, or even go for a long weekend, when you actually feel like spending it all at home watching Netflix. Push your limits a bit, and you will shortly discover that some of the best networking opportunities weren't programmed.

Don't be negative

unhappy person

As an expat, especially a newbie one, you might be feeling down and homesick, dealing with a hefty workload, or just not being able to adapt to the new culture. However, our advice is to avoid bringing all your problems and distress in your networking time. If you fall into the trap of complaining and accusing, it's very likely that people will avoid you or you will attract people in a similar state of mind, which won't be beneficial for either of you. The best practice is to stay true to yourself while presenting your best version.

Don't oversell yourself


Networking is about mutual appreciation and respect and an exchange of knowledge, information, and, why not, an inspiration to improve your personal and professional skills. However, often, in order to make what they think as the most of the networking opportunities, people tend to create a not so accurate profile of themselves, yet very impressive. Don't be arrogant and self-centred, and be as realistic as possible when you introduce yourself; sooner or later the real you will come to the surface, and it's better to save your network the hassle of rediscovering you all over again. No one is perfect, why should you?  

Don't expect everything from others

isolated person

Communication, and therefore networking, is a two-sided game, which as we have already mentioned requires time and effort, sometimes even practice. It is very rare that we stay at home, thinking how to improve our lives, and things just happen to us. However, it's not unusual to hear about people who have worked hard, chased opportunities, and dared to do things, and they now see the fruits of their tremendous efforts. Take the opportunities of networking as they come — attend an expat networking event, accept an invitation from a colleague, say “hello” to your neighbour. And when you are out and about, don't expect people to show initiative and be interested in what you do, where you are from, etc. Instead, wait your turn and show them why you are an added value in their network.