Expat Survey Provides Insights on How to Make Connections while Working Abroad

As a working professional abroad, you likely have a large database full of contacts from your home country. However, many professionals neglect to grow their network of international contacts.

How to Make Friends AbroadSimple demographics should tell any working professional all they need to know about the size of the opportunity: About 95 percent of the world’s population lives outside the United States and a rising percentage of those people are “middle class” consumers. Tapping into internationial markets requires more effort and stepping outside of your comfort zone.A strong network of friends and business contacts can make transitioning into your new environment much easier, and without these relationships you could miss out on lots of opportunities. Therefore, making connections should be on the top of the list for all expatriates once they get to their host nations.

Recently, issues with making friends were brought up by the more than 8,000 expats who took the time to answer questions for The Expat Survey 2013. Participants spanned the globe, coming from 128 countries and included 10 nationalities. 

Their feedback, as well as a few key tips, may be exactly what you need to start making friends while working abroad.

Friends important to integrating into culture

Friendship is a valuable asset for all expats, especially when it comes to integrating into the new culture, country and work environment. Without this support structure in place, it may be tough to adapt and grow as a working professional.

In The Expat Survey 2013, respondents noted that the biggest problem they had when relocating was learning the language. In fact, 53% said that this was difficult, topping the list. In comparison, only 22%  stated that making friends was challenging, while 57% said that it was easy. In addition, 49% agreed that finding local friends was easy when integrating into the culture, while 47% noted that they often went out with expat friends instead of local friends. 

Overall, friendship is incredibly important to all expats. A strong network can help combat the symptoms of culture shock and homesickness, and it can also make learning the language and the new job much easier.

Make your new country feel like home

According to expat resource website GoOverseas.com, one of the easiest ways to get started is to get to a local event. These could be a sporting event, a musical show, a festival or even just a nightclub. These occasions are all prime examples of the local culture, and they can also provide personal networking opportunities that are hard to get elsewhere. Try to start up a conversation with a local and demonstrating a sincere interest in them.

In addition, you should always be on the look-out for new networking opportunities, the news source noted. These can include classes, such as a language class. Picking up the local language can be the hardest part of being an expat, so attending a seminar at a local university can not only help you with that, but also let you meet new people. Practice with your classmates and offer to meet outside to further your skills. This way, you'll be using your lack of knowledge as a way to kick off the conversation.

Above all else, try to meet up with other expats. These people have done it all before, and they can offer in-depth advice and knowledge about how to make friends - or they can turn into friends themselves.

As an expatriate working abroad, you will need to know about a new language overseas. Find out more about 3 tips to learn a foreign language abroad.

3 Tips to Learn a Foreign Language Abroad

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