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Building Your Professional Overseas Network

Finally, you are moving abroad. You are ready to leave your home country and all aspects of your life seem mundane and boring in comparison to the life you have dreamed of abroad. Although you are ready to leave, there are some things that should not be left behind. Professional relationships are one of those things. 

The pandemic has proven that expats cannot predict when a return home or move to a new country may come. Even though many borders are now open, some have lost jobs due to an economic downturn in their current country and some have decided to return home out of concern for elderly parents. This highlights the need to continue to cultivate professional relationships that you have developed over the years, and the necessity of looking for new connections in your new country as well.

You may feel that the job you are taking abroad is your dream job. So why in the world would you want to leave? Well, once you are abroad you will learn that life abroad is the same as in your home country. Life changes and you change with it, even if the buildings and the people outside your window look a bit different from where you originate. You may decide to change jobs (or want to boost your career) but stay in your current country. If that happens, a local network is essential. 

In general, moving to a new country will give you numerous opportunities to make new connections. You can build a local network by:

-Joining local expat organizations or university alumni groups

-Volunteering at local charities or your child’s school

-Maintaining contact with former local colleagues 

-Maintaining contact with people you met during your relocation, such as real estate agents

-Joining a class or club 

-Attending a lecture or community events

If you decide to return to your home country… (I know what you are thinking, but never say never.) When you return home your old professional networks will be an invaluable resource. 

Per the SILKROAD Research Report, Sources of Hire 2018, 78% of hires come from offline applications and 69% of those hires result from employee referrals. By keeping those connections updated on your achievements and location, you will have a head start in your job search, if and when that happens. 

Image: iStock

How Can You Maintain a Connection back at Home?

Social media is the best place to start in this online, globally connected world we live in now. Touch base with past colleagues, neighbors and friends at least once a year. By staying in touch, this will reduce any feelings of awkwardness when you need to reach out for a favor.

Also, maintaining an updated LinkedIn profile is beneficial. At the moment, LinkedIn is the champion of professional social media worldwide with over 740 million active users. Unlike other social media, you can market your need for employment and people expect you to toot your own horn about your professional skills and accomplishments there.

A current LinkedIn profile will make it easy for anyone in your network to review your experience and make a referral with just a link to your profile. It may draw attention for an unplanned opportunity, which is a bonus.

Don’t forget about professional organizations. To create a local network, you should join a local chapter if available. Some may have an international option, which will allow you to remain an active member and provide visibility to members you have already met while making new connections on an international level.

If you have neglected to maintain contact with your professional network, why not try reaching out to one or two people a week? Implementing any of the recommendations mentioned above is better than doing nothing at all.Since no one can predict the future, it really is crucial to maintain a strong network in preparation for a change in your circumstances.

Now that you have added maintaining your professional network to your to-do list, you can go back to daydreaming about roaming the streets of your chosen city abroad. Here’s to hoping all your daydreams come true!

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