Career Guide: All About Networking, Including 18 Networking Sites for Expats in the Czech Republic
When hunting for a new job, people try to look everywhere using all sorts of methods, forgetting one of the simplest and most effective: personal connections. In fact, one of the words that pops up most often on job-search and career-related websites is “networking”. Networking seems to be one of the keys to achieving almost everything you want in life, but what does it mean to network, and why does it matter whether you do it or not? Photo: stock photo / Freepik.
What is networking?
Networking refers to the practice of talking, connecting and maintaining social contact with people you can assist and who might help you move further in your career. In a nutshell:
- Meet people
- Know people
- Get people to know you
- Provide mutual profits
So why should you network? To begin with, many job positions are not always listed on job boards and websites – up to 85%, according to a 2016 LinkedIn survey – and the only way you can find out about them is by being directly told that there is a vacancy. That’s why socializing will prove to be important in developing your career. Your chat with a colleague from another department? That’s networking. That discussion you had with that one interesting looking guy about his seemingly absurd plans? That’s networking. Laughing at the terrible joke that the friend of your boss told during the work dinner – and even before that, actually attending the work dinner? Yup, still networking (although please do not confuse it with bootlicking). All of the social interaction mentioned above, if done right, will help you grow a network of people around you who know you and who know they can count on you. And this feeling is mutual: later on they might tell you whether their workplace has a vacancy, and/or give you a recommendation letter. Networking is about not missing the right opportunities.
Who should you network with?
First, don’t forget that you already have a network. Family, friends, family friends, co-workers, neighbours, clubs and associations (volunteering is great in this regard), university colleagues and professors: they are all part of the first circle of people that can help you find a good job. The next step is to expand that circle to colleagues, people working or interested in your field, and people working or interested in your interests. Not every connection has to be job-related; you might find out that the people you play basketball with on Friday are facing a problem at their workplace, and a professional figure like you could solve it.
Social media is another environment where you want to be active. LinkedIn now has more than 645 million users and it will be your virtual business card and first impression. Be sure to have a nice picture (friendly and professional at the same time is the best) and a clean, up-to-date profile. Following people and companies in your field of work and interests is a good way to check who you should be networking with. Another great tool for networking online is Twitter. Following relevant people in your field, retweeting them and occasionally getting retweeted as well will help your recognizability (or “personal brand”, if we want to speak fancy). Plus, meeting someone offline and being greeted with “Oh wait, are you @username !?” is a great feeling.
Why is networking important?
As mentioned already, networking is a useful tool that can help you find jobs that are usually hidden to outsiders, or hear at the right moment when a position has become available. But there are other reasons you should invest in it and attend social events and meetups.
1 – It can be fun.
I know you expected “Finding a job”, to be the first entry in this list, but you should see these occasions for what they are: moments in which experts on a topic share their knowledge with people in their field, or simply a gathering of like-minded people. I am a curious person and I personally love learning, even in fields which are not my own; these events often end up teaching me something I can use in my profession, may it be new words, software or mindsets. I ask questions, I catch the interest of people who caught my interest as well, we talk and who knows, maybe we will become business partners one day. But I had fun and I met and talked with interesting people, and that’s what counts.
2 – It can help you find a job.
That’s the reason many people attend these events and many career and job-search experts suggest it. By cultivating your social circle it’s easier to get in contact with people who will tell you when they need to fill a vacancy. Don’t forget that networking is not begging for a job: don’t forget this and act accordingly, what you should be doing is showing that you’re interested and available and that’s it.
3 – It will help you develop further along your path (focus on cultivating).
As we said above, networking is not begging for a job, but more importantly, it’s a process. It takes time to get in touch with the right people, it takes time for them to remember who you are: this is totally normal and okay. By attending networking events you are not going for interviews, you are planting seeds waiting for them to sprout into cool opportunities you can harvest later on. Even if you don’t plan to change your job yet or are not currently looking for one, having a solid network of people can help you when you need it.
4 – Attending networking events actually helps you grow as a professional.
This goes back to point 1. Especially if you are an introvert, getting out of your comfort zone will help you develop a lot of of crucial soft skills. Meeting new people, and sharing and comparing ideas and plans will make you more aware of yourself, your strong points and your weaknesses. Maybe after meeting many professionals, you will notice that you are not as good as you thought you were, and that’s good, because once you are aware of your limits you can work on them and improve.
Where and how to network in the Czech Republic
As we said before, a good social media presence is a first step toward effective networking. You don’t need to be an influencer, but if you prove yourself to be qualified in online discussions, people will remember.
The second step (or first, depending on your ease with technology and social media) is to ask around and cultivate relationships with the people you know already: your boss may become your ex-boss, your colleagues will be your former colleagues – some of them might even become friends – but if you played your cards right (aka behaved like a functional member of society, or even as a nice/funny person) your name will be mentioned when someone they know is looking for a new employee with your qualifications.
The third step is to attend networking events and seminars related to your field. Once you know your office well, get outside and meet other professionals from your field. Not all events are the same, so look for the information you need online, pick your crowd and pick your location. Events related to your field are useful because they allow you to meet people with a similar background or situation, and talking about a shared experience and perspective (more often than not about a particular terrible client or a super hard project) often helps the bonding.
18 Online and Offline Networking Sites for Expats in the Czech Republic
Attending networking events and seminars is a great way to meet new people. If you are currently living in the Czech Republic and you don’t know where to start, here are a few suggestions.
1 – If you’re based in Brno, Prague or Ostrava, Impact Hub is the place for you. The Hub is “an inspirational workspace combining the advantages of a fully-equipped office with an Internet cafe and a business incubator”; the Hubs organize events every week and frequently host various meet-ups.
2 – Create a profile on InterNations, the biggest portal for expats in the world. Once your registration is approved (the registration is free of charge), you can join and meet with the expat community living in your city.
3 – Opero is a co-working and networking space in the close proximity to Prague’s Old Town Square. Memebrs of Opero can meet “at work, during meetings, during social events, or simply by chance while having coffee on the terrace.”
4 – Business for Breakfast regularly organizes business meetings for entrepreneurs, freelancers and professionals in the Czech cities. The majority of their events is held in the Czech language, however occasionally, you can find a BfB event in English.
5 – Jobspin Multilingual Job Fairs are perfect for candidates with excellent language skills and international education or work experience! The Jobspin Job Fairs take place every spring and autumn in Prague and Brno and brings together the largest internationally-minded employers in the Czech Republic with expat job-seekers. Jobspin Job Fairs are the most exciting international career networking events in the country and definitely one of the “must-attends” for expatriate job seekers.
6 – Foreigners operates in all the major cities of the Czech Republic and organizes regularly seminars and MeetUps for foreigners and expats. Their MeetUps are for everyone who is new (and not so new) in town and wants to meet other expats in an informal setting.
7 – Move to Prague works in the Czech capital and often hosts seminars and webinars to help those who recently moved into the city. And parties, don’t forget about the parties.
8 – A good website to visit is Meetup.com. As the name suggests, it’s a community and event “aggregator”: you can pick your location, language and field of interest and see what events are happening near you. If you want to meet new people and experience something new, this is a great start.
9 – Eventbrite
10 – and Evensi are two other websites to bookmark in your browser. These event aggregators will help you find the perfect conference or free seminar to attend: those events often include a networking session after the Q&A or during dinner.
11 – Machine Learning Meetups is a platform for people interested in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, data mining and other related topics. They are active both in Prague and Brno, and regularly organize seminars and meetups.
12 – For Marketing professionals, there is a Marketing Festival in Prague.
14 – Product Tank is “a global network of meetups for product people, by product people, and provides an opportunity for Product Managers exchange ideas and experiences about Product Design, Development and Management, Business Modelling”. They organize talks and meetups both in Prague and Brno.
15 – The international open-source software provider Red Hat has a research and development division in Brno. They often organize talks and seminars across the Czech Republic, you can find a short list on their Facebook page.
16 – If you are a game developer, you should know that Czech Republic (and especially the Brno area) is full of studios, often looking for new collaborators and ideas. GameDev Area supports the local game developer community and organizes a monthly meetup in Brno. In May, you can attend the “Game Access Conference”, a two-day conference with international speakers.
17 – Check the Facebook groups for expats in your area. In the last few years Facebook invested a lot of resources in making its group feature a user-friendly platform where people can gather and share opinions, suggestions and tips. We list just a few Facebook groups for Italian, Spanish and Portuguese communities in Prague, and Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese expat communities in Brno; but there are many more!
18 – Facebook groups are also a great tool for job-seekers. You can find groups with fresh job listings from various employers for expats in the Czech Republic, or more specifically, for those in Prague and Brno. You can even find Facebook groups focusing on different job categories – such as IT jobs, Jobs in HR and Marketing or Finance and Accounting Jobs – or languages – French, German, Mediterranean, and Nordic.
Last tip: This is probably one of the most common (and most hated) suggestions you can find on the internet but it usually works: when you are attending an event, don’t forget to be yourself. It’s easier to bond with people if they let you get to know them better, and it’s way better to talk with people who have feelings, ideas and passions. Don’t gush, but don’t be afraid to share your passion about a topic and ask questions about it. And if you don’t succeed in extending your network right away, don’t worry too much about it. People are busy and know other people already; your aim is to genuinely meet people, not get hired on the spot. That’s why one of the most important things to remember is that the best networking takes time.
The news and tips for people who would like to find a job in Prague or Brno were prepared by the Jobspin team: a mix of interns, graduates, and university drop outs. Like what you’re reading? Subscribe to monthly news highlights in the Czech job market and economy – Newsletter Sign Up. Stay tuned – more reading is coming next week.