How to develop a professional network in Brussels

how to develop a professional network in Brussels
Updated 2021-12-14 13:42

As lots of people move to Brussels to advance their careers, it is no surprise that most people in the city are looking to develop their professional network. Add in the fact that over 35,000 lobbyists are working in Brussels and you'll find that there is a myriad of events each week where you can make useful contacts. Here are some tips on how you can expand your professional network in Brussels.

When it comes to networking, Brussels is truly unique, and this is in large part thanks to its multicultural makeup and the European Parliament which is such a major seat of power in the world. So many diverse nationalities call the city home, and as most people are expats, everyone has something in common.

Talks and conferences

Every week there are tons of events taking place across the city, so it is well worth keeping an eye on what conferences and talks are going on as these are great places for meeting people working in a field that you're interested in. Some of these events attract people with drinks and food, and it is very common to give someone your business card after striking up a casual conversation over a glass of wine. Interest groups, think-tanks and international companies are continually organising events and forums in the city, and so there are loads of opportunities to meet people interested in a similar topic as you are and expand your professional network.

Embassies and national groups

While it is almost impossible to socialise with people from just one country in Brussels, going to events organised by your country's embassy or chamber of commerce, for instance, is a great way to make professional contacts with people who speak the same language as you and share the same culture. They, in turn, may know of opportunities that you can take advantage of or point you in the direction of someone who may be able to help you out.

Sports groups or cultural groups

Expanding and developing your professional network doesn't always have to take place in a formal work or business setting. Indeed one of the best places to make contacts is when you are simply enjoying yourself and playing a sport or socialising. Brussels being what it is, everyone works for a company, institution or governmental body and if they don't have insight or influence in the field you're looking to enter or learn about, then they can always put you in contact with someone who does. Obviously, you shouldn't join a specific club or team just to curry favour or advance your career as you will then probably risk coming across as disingenuous ' see it more as an added benefit of being in Brussels!

Websites and online groups

There are loads of websites which post events or meetups that are going on in Brussels, and these are a great way to meet new people who have similar interests to you., for instance, has lots of groups for you to join and there is undoubtedly something for everyone to enjoy whether it is learning how to facilitate an event, taking part in a hackathon or simply meeting some new people over a coffee or tea. While some of them are career and business oriented, most of them aren't but don't let that stop you from joining in and making new friends or acquaintances. In reality, all of them offer you the chance to further your professional network as you never know who you might meet and how you could collaborate with them in the future. It is also a good idea to join some Facebook groups once you move to Brussels as some of them are very useful in terms of telling you what's going on in the city.


Whatever company, think-tank or job you end up at in Brussels, many of them will immediately tell you to get on Twitter as absolutely everyone in the city is tweeting about all the latest events, policies or campaigns going on. If used correctly it can be a great way to build a network and learn about your field of interest as well as what people in your area of expertise are thinking and doing. By connecting with people online, you can impact and interact directly with decision-makers and influential people, all without having left the house. By monitoring Twitter, you can also see which events professionals in your field will be going to and therefore plan which ones to go to yourself.

Place Luxembourg

On Thursday evenings, the square in front of the European Parliament teems with people socialising and having a good time. With the end of the week approaching, people unwind at the bars that line the square, and you'll find everyone from fresh-faced interns to seasoned lobbyists and MEPS mixing. As well as enjoying themselves, a lot of people try and make useful contacts which they can draw on at some point in the future. In the summertime, the square is fenced off to public transport, and so people spill into the roads with each Thursday evening feeling somewhat like a small festival with so many people have a good time.

Networking is a part of life in Brussels

As so many newcomers come to the city each year, it is no surprise that networking has become second nature to a lot of people. To move to a new city and start a new job and life, you have to be quite open, and this helps when it comes to making new contacts and meeting people. Indeed in many ways, people have to network; otherwise, it becomes tough to find your friendship group and like-minded people in the city. Whether that's in a social sense or a professional one, both are equally necessary for enjoying your new life in Brussels.

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