How To Build Professional Connections In A New Country

Last Updated on May 3, 2019 by Estrella

how to build professional connections in a new country
How to build professional connections in a new country. Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst.

You just left a successful career behind and moved to a new country. Perhaps your spouse got a job here, and the whole family is moving, starting a new life. You have no connections here. And there is a waiting period before you get your work permit. You would like to pursue the same career here, but you are not sure if the new culture has elements to work search that you don’t know about. How do you prepare yourself? Where do you meet others in your field? This article offers some ideas on how to build professional connections in a new country.

Where and how to build professional connections

At a recent workshop, one attendee shared her experience. She was a HR recruiter in her country. Not knowing anyone here, she searched online for professional networking groups. She found one that interested her. Before she entered the room, she looked around and saw one woman she would like to meet. Perhaps it was her face. Or maybe it’s the energy that radiated from her.

She approached the woman and enjoyed her conversation thoroughly. The mission and value of this woman’s work match her own values. Shortly after, she invited this woman to coffee so they could get to know each other better. They stayed in touch. A few months later, the woman needed someone to work on a project, and offered the job to her, even though it’s not in HR recruitment. What an encouragement!

So, it’s not only where you meet other professionals, but how you build the connections.

Finding professional network groups

A few places to start searching for professional networking groups are LinkedIn, iloveseattle.org (if you live in the Greater Seattle area), and meetup.com.

Although the next one is not technically a professional networking group, Toastmasters is an excellent place to build your confidence making presentations in your new language. The added benefit is that many in Toastmasters are professionals from various fields. There is often time to socialize during a break or after the meeting. This is an excellent opportunity to let helpful members know about your interests. Maybe even get a referral to a networking group relevant to you.

Examples of business groups found in iloveseattle.org are: American Marketing Association, Women in Communications, International Association of Administrative Professionals, Women in Cloud, Affordable Housing Management Association of Washington.

With LinkedIn, you can join in the online discussion within groups relevant to your field. Although this is not a direct approach to job search, you are making yourself visible to others in your profession. Add value to the discussion. Do NOT promote yourself here. If you find valuable content, share it with the group. You might even let the group know that you are new to this country, and are looking for a local group to connect with in your field. Members can be quite helpful with suggestions.

How to build your professional network

Now that you have found a few potential groups, visit each one and choose the ones you feel the most comfortable in. Maybe it’s the helpfulness of the members, or their friendliness. Whatever the reason, if you are going to stay with a group or groups, choose the ones you enjoy.

If you are somewhat shy in a new group, on your first visit, just choose a few people you like to talk to. Don’t try to meet everyone. You may find similar interests with the few you spend time with, professional or not. Building professional relationships is not always shop talk.

After your first visit, if there’s someone you like to build a relationship with, send them a friend request on LinkedIn. And invite them for coffee to get to know each other even better. Stay in touch. Be of value to the other.

And if you decide to stay with a group, attend the events regularly. Let the other members get to know you. It’s easier to know someone better if they see you on a regular basis.

Volunteering for board positions or committees

If your group is looking for board members or someone to lead a committee, volunteer. That is, if you like the duties involved. It’s a great way for the group to notice you. From your work, others will see how well you work with others, how responsible you are. In other words, you are letting others see your work. When you complete your term (or even before then) ask those who know your work well to write you a recommendation on LinkedIn. And add the volunteer experience to your profile.

To summarize, building a professional network in a new country can be relatively easy. There are other professionals to connect with, and who are delighted to meet you. Add value to them. Attend events regularly if you choose to stay with a group, so members get to know you over time. Volunteer for the group so others get to see your work ethics.

If you find this article helpful, here is one on Career Advancement Tips for Immigrants.


Estrella Chan coaches immigrants and international professionals in English fluency, interview skills, and public speaking.    To schedule a session with her, please email support@englisharoundtheworld.com

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