Networking for expats


The purpose of networking is to share information amongst a group of people with something in common. For expats, networking can help to replace or rebuild the support systems that have been left behind in the home country and helps expats establish themselves in their host country.

Networking is not only important for sharing business services and resources, but a healthy way to meet others and form social relationships. The benefits of networking overseas are vast - like finding a trusted babysitter, embarking on a lifelong friendship or securing an exciting job opportunity.

Types of Networking

Networking as an expat can be undertaken on a formal basis through business and professional groups, or through informal, social clubs and activities like coffee mornings, toddler groups or tennis and photography clubs.

Networking opportunities are also available online, and virtual tools can help you network before you even leave for your destination country. Expat forums are a perfect example of a networking tool to share and gain information prior to relocating and they provide a means of meeting other expats in your new location before you arrive.

Pre-departure networking boosts your confidence and makes you feel more comfortable when you arrive, knowing that you already have a skeleton support structure in your host country.

Online: you can easily and conveniently network using internet tools. Social networking opportunities are in abundance online; tools such as Facebook and Twitter mean you can maintain a global network, no matter where you are located. A group such as InterNations provides an online element of networking with the opportunity of regular face to face meetups in your locality, as well as specific information and resources for different countries and cities.

This is aside of course, from the established online tools in an expat’s arsenal for staying in touch with a wider network such as email, instant messengers and VOIP.

Expat Clubs and Associations: in many expat locations there is an array of established clubs and groups for expats founded on a common theme such as language, nationality, gender, sports, hobby, political views or family make up. These kinds of clubs organise social events around home country festivities and local and international holidays, as well as general activities.

There is also an organisation that support dual-careers for expat families, and provide services such as assistance in finding a job for a mobile employee's partner, and providing companies with a good pool of talent. This organisation is called the International Dual Career Network or IDCN. It is a network of over 70 member corporations supporting over 2,000 relocated partners abroad. It is now present in 10 cities worldwide. To learn more about this network, visit their official website.

Local Networks

If you speak the local language, or are learning, then your local community offers a host of opportunities to network on an informal or formal basis – think about things like local entrepreneur groups, sports and social clubs, hobby activities and activities like children’s story time or reading groups at the local library. Visit Expatfinder’s group pages to find local networks in your new country of residence.

Business Networking

Aside from local groups, there is a variety of groups for business networking, both online and face-to-face. A search of the internet will soon uncover business groups ideal for expats such as Expat Women Entrepreneurs, LinkedIn and Ecademy. You will also be able to find an international or local group for your specialised field to share information and resources and potentially attract clients and form business partnerships. Your employer may be able to point you to a local networking group specific to your industry and location.

Women’s Networks

Due to the fact that many accompanying partners are women, there is a multitude of expat groups which target women for both social networking and career and business support for those living overseas.

Established groups like American and British Women’s Clubs, which can usually be found in major cities, are examples of well-founded and popular networks that women turn to.

Many locations host mother and toddler groups specifically for the local expat community and this can be an excellent way to meet other mothers with similar aged children when you first move overseas.

Social and Functional Networking

Volunteer work or sitting on the parent and governor board of your child’s school can also offer excellent networking opportunities to an expat. Your children’s extra-curricular activities can also provide your family to meet other expat or local families with similar interests and allow you to network on a social level in your overseas location.