I recently relocated to Sao Paulo Brazil following my marriage and embarked on an international business experience in the hospitality and events industry while completing my graduate program.
In one of the world’s most populous cities and with the language spoken countrywide Portuguese, it was easy to find myself as a little fish in a big pond. One of my fellow CPCE contacts recommended that I join the local InterNations chapter to network and make new contacts and friends.
I had never heard of such an organization, so I immediately went online to see what this group was all about. I discovered that InterNations is the largest global expat network with 1.5 million members in 390 international cities. The cities cover every large metropolis on each continent. InterNations, founded in 2007 by three Germans, was created where expats from all countries of the world can network, socialize and find trustworthy information and services wherever they are.
I attended my first Saturday night mixer at the Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo with more than 350 local expats. I found it quite easy to converse (in English) with more than a dozen individuals who work in F&B distribution, expositions, health care, law, marketing and even special event planning. It was a hospitality sales professional’s paradise of prospects.
As this organization is likely active and available in your city of residence, I would recommend checking out the next activity near you. There are a few recommendations I would suggest for attending the mixers and activities:
1) Get involved. If you are a student or event professional interested in some volunteer opportunities in the city where you live, or if you want to add some event planning experiences to your portfolio, then InterNations does seek local ambassadors to organize and host networking events and activities at unique venues that usually only the locals know about.
2) Bring your business cards. Be prepared to mix and mingle with business professionals from around the world. This is an excellent time to introduce yourself, share what you are doing in the city, and talk about your business. Oftentimes your new contacts may be in need of your services or know someone who would. It’s a great time to make new contacts and obtain referrals.
3) Open your mouth. Quite easy for sales professionals, but even if you have another role in business, don’t be afraid to chat it up with those around you. Everyone is very approachable and will easily engage in conversation with you.
4) Check the confirmed invite list. Prior to attending a mixer or mutual interest activity, it is ideal to see who else is going. You can e-introduce yourself or connect prior with any participants.
5) Consider an “albatross” membership. For about $65 U.S., you can enjoy and participate in one year's worth of networking activities that normally have a nominal admittance fee.
I have been nothing less than impressed by this organization to date. This is a great opportunity to expand your international network, exchange your language skills, showcase your city and obtain new prospective clients. For more information, visit www.internations.org today.
Brandon Lindley, CMP, CSEP, CPCE, is recently married and currently resides in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He is completing his masters of hospitality administration at the University of Nevada Las Vegas through distance education. He has 11 years of hospitality and event planning experience from both Marriott Hotels and The Venetian Resort and Casino, Las Vegas. He enjoys the beach, cycling, exploring new and favorite restaurants, reading, visiting museums and exhibitions, and on weekends, holding an ice-cold caipirinha in his hand.