If you are new to a place, from a social point of view, you have to start from scratch: Build your professional network, find likeminded people, settle into a community and make yourself at home again.
First, dedicate some thoughts to the reason why you are networking: Would you like to find friends to hang out or pursue a hobby with? Do you prefer to find a professional network and which branches do you target? Are you looking for future employers or potential partners? Where do you meet the people you need, in order to profit from networking? It is important to bear in mind: No one has enough time to network just for the networking’s sake.
Networking allowed me to spend a day with European Commissioner Oettinger in Bruxelles
If you have decided on your target group, have a look at these clubs and groups to find the right people. I want to share a few connections with you, which I found helpful when I moved to Germany. You never know what comes around – maybe you find your future boss there, maybe you can help someone or decide to build your own business with the help of new friends…
You will notice that your German language classes pay off, because of course, these events are mostly in German.
- IHK – the Chamber of Commerce and Industry: Entrepreneurs who register their business are members here. Some courses require a fee, some a free to join
- Wirtschaftsjunioren: Strong community of entrepreneurs and young professionals below 40 with the main goal to foster national and international networks and advance their leadership skills. You are welcome to attend some events before they ask you if you are interested in a membership. Choose from different resorts like entrepreneurship, communication, leadership, international…
- Wirtschaftsrat: Entrepreneurs and managers who help form the political and economic landscape in Germany. They meet in interest groups, discuss, work on problems and present them to Chancellor Merkel. I was at the Wirtschaftstag in Berlin last year where I met Mrs. Merkel and talked to our European Commissioner Guenther Oettinger who invited me to join him for a day in Bruxelles – extremely interesting!
- Rotaract (the young division of Rotary up to 32 y), Round Table (for under 40): These are service clubs, no fee to join but you must be committed and it is appreciated to attend the biweekly meetings. “Adopt-adapt-improve” is Round Table’s motto. Great friendships are built here and the projects serve a good cause, like the Christmas present convoy to Bulgaria or a Benefit Symposium like the last one with dm-founder Götz Werner.
- Bfbm.de: Women in business and management. Events include “Netzwerken im Biergarten”
- Interest specific: For example. Toastmasters (people who want to improve their presentation skills). They meet on a weekly basis, give presentations and help each other to grow; Rowing Club, or similar, for the sporty ones among you.
- Also, get engaged in your community and neighborhood: That way you get to know people around you and they get to know and value you. It gives a good feeling if you contribute to a project.
Some helpful hints…
- When you are at bigger events, make sure you take the attendee list (Teilnehmerverzeichnis) back home. It’s generally a great door opener (“…we met at…”) and helps building bridges.
- Looking at psychological aspects, it’s a good idea to join a group, listen and join the conversation rather than interrupting them with your introduction. I like to get in contact by including people around me in my conversations, drawing them into my group. But I am confident you have developed your own method that suits your personality.
- And don’t forget to bring enough business cards!
Now get yourself out there. Every evening in front of the TV is lost time (except if you count it as German language training).