Whether for personal or professional reasons, knowing other people does have its benefits. Still, as Oscar Wilde has been loosely quoted, "some people brighten the room by entering it, others by leaving", so it does pay off to be particular and make choices as to whom you are connecting yourself. After all, you are about the average of the ten people you spend the most time with. Here are some questions to ask yourself when making networking decisions:
1. Why am I interested in this person/group? What do they have to offer me?
2. What can I bring to the table to make this person/group be interested in having a connection with me?
3. Are their ethics and values in line with my own?
4. What are the rules, what is the culture of the person/group?
5. Will they expect me to contribute money/time/volunteer/help out? Will these activities complement my schedule or be a burden?
6. How often do they meet and where? Do they offer activities/speeches that will be interesting?
Networking has become both more important and easier in recent years. Websites like linked-in and xing offer free basic services to reconnect to old high school mates, find colleagues in your organization world-wide, and join discussion forums in topics of your choice. For a paid upgrade to a professional account you gain access to a greater database, giving you more elaborate search possibilities as well as internal emailing options. It's up to you what you make of it; you'll meet new people, prospective clients, reconnect with long-forgotten acquaintances, find or be a mentor in the area of your interest in the measure that you participate in debates and collaborations.
I recommend this kind of service to anyone, especially if you've just moved somewhere new and want to establish a new circle of friends and business contacts. Unless you're happily introvert, because let's remember that not everybody enjoys spending much time nor gets energized in groups, establishing a social circle will make adapting to your new circumstances much easier. If you're an expat and you've moved internationally, it may be the least daunting to start by checking out groups of your own nationality that have been established locally. These may be specific expat groups, or groups supported by local chambers, embassies, churches, or language schools. You'll be sure to find like-minded people who speak your language to show you around and help you find your way to the post office.
On a personal note, I've recently enjoyed a mix-and-mingle happy hour with the local German-American Chamber of Commerce in Dallas. Turns out there are quite a few Deutsche around this area, and it was a nice change to speak German again and compare notes. If you have a minute, check out their blog and see if you can spot Waldo
me in one of the photos. Also, please check out my new website and the survey I've prepared in order to find out expat coaching needs first-hand. Thank you as always for your participation!
Until next time, happy networking!