Traditionally, ‘networking’ refers to building a base of contacts for the professional world, but these days networks expand into the realm of general acquaintances and even friends. Expanding your network can be a simple as talking to everyone you work with, building relationships with coursemates if you’re studying, and keeping in touch with your friendship group as you grow older.
Your network takes on an international element when you connect with people abroad or when your connections move to another city or country. Developing a diverse international network can take a little more time and effort, but take it from me, getting to know people from other cultures and maintaining a strong contact base around the world will serve you well for years to come. The list of reasons for doing so goes on and on, so buckle up, there’s a few coming your way.
For even more reasons to travel
Studying abroad is one of the easiest ways to expand your international network; not only have your classmates all traveled from different countries to join you, you’ll also all head off in different directions once the course is complete. Your new-found contacts could relocate to any of the four corners of the globe. What better excuse to travel than to catch up with a friend abroad? With an international network, you’ll have people to stay with when you travel, ready-made tour guides who know all the best secret spots in their town, and people who’ll come and visit you in your home city.
For the endless learning possibilities
One of the best ways to connect is to share an experience. General advice for making deep connections is to do more than just swap business cards. Try a cooking class, head out on a hike, or learn a language together. And learning certainly doesn’t have to stop once you’ve made connections; with an international network of friends, you’ll always be interacting with – and learning from – different cultures. Pick up new culinary skills by making their favorite dishes from home, keep your language skills sharp by chatting regularly and have your eyes opened to different outlooks on life.
For an international support group
If you were about to move to a new city, wouldn’t it be nice to know you had at least one friendly face there when you arrived? Your old exchange buddy could be that person. Thinking about a career change or taking a job in another country? That classmate from your study abroad course a few years ago could offer invaluable advice on their industry, employer, and even the city they’ve made a life in. Your support network could span every area of your life AND several continents.
For future business opportunities
Meeting new people, making sure you’re dressed appropriately, and trying not to make a fool of yourself… Business networking is terrifying. But it doesn’t have to be. Not all networking takes place in a stuffy conference hall, where business cards are traded and conversation is forced. Often, your friends, classmates, and former colleagues will follow career paths that you find interesting, or have relevant connections to you in their own networks.
You never know when someone you’re speaking to might know of an opportunity you’d never find online or be able to connect you with someone else who’ll be in a position to offer you experience – or even a job. If you’re unsure which direction in life to take, keeping in touch with your old connections could inspire you to chase a similar career path. Just don’t forget to pay it forward: One day, you may also be in a position to help someone in your own network.
What are you waiting for? Get mingling, people, and keep in touch!