5 Networking tips for Expat Partners who don’t like networking
They’ve all known each other for a long time. I am the new one and they don’t need me. You are scared to death by the idea of mingling with the locals. How would you begin? Why should you mingle amongst others anyway? You already have enough friends. You know it will be helpful and fun in the end, but to take the first step….
For some people, networking is like a party; for others, it is something they would rather avoid. As an Expat Partner, you know that you have to mingle in new social settings; mingle with the locals and among other Expat partners. You know this.
Although people always say I am comfortable connecting with others, it is not something I do very easily. I have learned tricks to make it happen and to step into the unknown of new people in my life. I had to learn this because my social environment was ever changing in the past few years.
1. Choose a social setting on which you can focus
Pick out one social setting in which you can begin to hone your networking skills. That can be the school your children go to every day. All schools – especially International Schools – have people on the playground waiting for their children! I bet there will be lots of other parents out there with the same struggle to make contact. We all know that we need each other: You need them, they need you and they will help you! Never forget that all Expat Partners have been there before and will be again, over and over again.
Don’t worry if your children attend the local school. This can be easier! For locals, it’s always exciting to get to know people from another country. You can light up their lives simply because they can help you (and helping others makes people feel good). Additionally, you can tell them about your life in another country. Most people want to learn about that. You can give them the feeling of traveling to your country without the actual traveling. Maybe they will even be inspired to travel.
Another option is to try to find a group of people who are from your home country. People from your country are living everywhere. Use Google to find network groups in your new area. Try to find them – even before you move to your new country. The worldwide web (school pages on Facebook or LinkedIn groups) can help you find people in groups with whom to connect.
2. Think about what your goal is
What do you need most? Is it information you are looking for? Information about the area or information about local customs? Or are you looking for a friend you can share your time with? Are you looking for someone to go to a museum with or do you want to find a local way of spending your days?
If you have a goal, you can explore that. You are in charge and you can decide whether you like the contact or not. You can decide if you want to continue the contact you’ve just made.
3. Prepare yourself
Let the Internet do the work for you. Try to find groups or Facebook pages where you can look people up. If you are familiar with some faces, it will be easier to approach people simply because you already (think) you know them. The Internet will tell you a lot about other people. They share information about themselves and if you like that information, you might like the person behind it. You have something to talk about from the start of your new contact.
You can only listen if you ask people questions. Start with an open question and people will do the talking for you. How easy is that?!? I will tell you more about the art of listening. This is such a huge topic….I can spend days on this one! So for now: Start by practicing open questions. You can ask questions everywhere! Just ask a question and the answers will come!
5. You are not the only one….
You are not the only one who doesn’t like networking. Really! If you take a closer look, you will find people who don’t like to be the center of attention. If you can identify these people, you are one step ahead. You can feel comfortable approaching them. Trust me on this. They will feel relieved that you made the first move. If you do that, you will have a conversation without all the hassle. It will be a first step on your way to being comfortable making new contacts.
So, think about what you need. Go and ask questions! GO GO GO! You know you can do it and you know you will benefit from it!
Have fun with meeting new people around the globe!
Share this if you think the 5 networking tips can be helpful to other Expat Partners!