Networking in a new city

When I decided to move to Hamburg last year I had an ambitious goal, or, better said, two related ones:

  1. meet people who could direct me to job opportunities;
  2. make new friends in a new city.

I had spent 3 months in a small German town looking for a job via the internet, after the consulting company that had just hired me had to lay off about a third of their workforce. I have written elsewhere that the job search in 2009 turned out to be very different from the job search in 2008. There were no jobs to be gotten via internet for me this time.

Therefore my goal of building a network in a bigger city with more jobs: I was convinced that I would only get my next job through the indication of a friend or an acquaintance. In the end, that is what happened, although not in Hamburg. But this is fodder for another post.

Back to Hamburg, I was in a new city where I didn’t know anyone at first. But I knew that there were networking events being organized by different people or associations. I searched for such events, got on the guest lists and went out to meet people.

It worked. Pretty well. I may say that it worked better for meeting new friends than for professional goals, but it worked also to get some leads to a few job openings, including the offer from a start up to develop their client base. In any case, I learned that it pays off to go out and meet strangers who are open to get to know new people, and I decided to do the same in São Paulo, in the few weeks I spent there in this end of year.

In Hamburg, I went to events of the following communities:

In São Paulo I didn’t have much chance so far. A great event was the end-of-year gathering of the MBA Alumni Brazil, an association of people who have done a full time MBA abroad. They are a great collection of experienced professionals in all sorts of industries. Already in the first meeting I received some valuable tips regarding accountants and lawyers in the city, contacts which I have already used for my new job.

I heard also of other events, like the “Clube da Luluzinha”, a gathering of female internet professionals. Men are not unwelcome there, it seems, but clearly not the target audience.

There are also different internet user groups, like bloggers, twitter and flicker users. As usual in Brazil, theses groups will only be more active after carnival.

A third group that I am sure meets in São Paulo, but I haven’t gotten in touch yet, are expatriates. In Brussels I went to 3 “New in town” meetings organized through the website www.meetup.com, and it was great! I am sure there is something similar in my hometown too, and if I can help the “gringos” with a bit of local knowledge, I will gladly do so.

But for the moment I am starting a new job in Germany, where I will stay the next 6 months. Then it is back to Brazil and time to try the above strategy once more with a bit more energy.

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