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Tips for Building Your Network in a New Country: Part 1

Tips for Building Your Network in a New Country: Part 1

As a newcomer in a foreign country where you do not know many people or the local language, networking can seem like a very difficult task. Do not be discouraged! You likely already have a network – you just need to learn how to use it.

Think of your network as more than business contacts. If you are involved in religious, social, athletic or charitable organisations, your fellow members are part of your network. Your neighbours, family and friends are part of your network. And your former colleagues, college alumni and professors are part of your network. When you change how you view your network, you will find possibilities all around you.

Keep in mind that networking can happen anywhere – even during a conversation with a stranger in a cafe or while waiting in line at the grocery store. Do not be afraid to discuss your professional interests with people and share the fact that you are looking for new opportunities.

How can I build my professional network?

There is always room for growth in your professional network. Moving to a new country is an excellent opportunity for expansion. If you are not already involved with some of the following organisations, consider joining as a way to meet new people. Ideas include:

  • Alumni associations
  • Local/international chambers of commerce
  • Expatriate groups
  • Online professional networking sites (i.e. LinkedIn)
  • Professional associations
  • Volunteer groups/charitable societies

What should I know about my new country before I network?

Use these three general tips to create a solid networking plan no matter where you live.

1. Learn proper business card etiquette. In some cultures, exchanging business or networking cards means more than in others. In Asia, for example, the cards are seen as an extension of the individual and are treated with respect. Research the proper way to present your card and to accept a card from another so as not to offend.

2. Understand personal space. Networking typically involves face-to-face communications. Learn what the personal space boundaries are in the country. In Latin America and the Middle East, you will find people stand or sit closer than those in the United States or Asia.

3. Watch your language. Be aware of the idioms or slang phrases you used in your home country. Find other ways to say the same thing using more general terms. A slang phrase in your home country may mean something completely different (or make no sense at all) to someone in a different country.

For more ideas, contact your IMPACT Group coach to learn what cultural influences in your new country may have an effect on your networking success.


Contribution by Jill Jassmann-Sharlock.

Jill is an IMPACT Group Global Research and Projects Team Lead who focuses on the unique information needs of global transferees. She also serves as IMPACT Group’s Global myIMPACT Specialist, managing content for our global job search and career portal.

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