Friday, 5 June 2009

How to build a social network

This move to a new city and workplace got me thinking last night (over herring and vodka incidentally). This is the first time since leaving home to go to university (in the days pre abundant access to internet) that I have been forced to build a social network, a real live one, from scratch.

Less of the typical Uni chat of where are you from, what A Levels did you do and what halls are you staying in maybe, but this is a very novel situation to be in. Not just novel, also pretty daunting at times when you consider it - I don't know the place, i know nobody here and to cap it all - Polish is the 3rd hardest language for a Brit to learn (behind Vietnamese and Korean I am reliably informed by the Brit/Pole expert, Michael Moran in "A country in the moon').

So how the hell do I go about it?

Well, when something appears that difficult you cheat a bit dont you. I'm not talking 'buying in' friends and favours. More using what wasn't there for me in Leeds 1991 - yes, da internet.

A few weeks ago, after finding the majority of web forums/blogs re being an Expat in Warsaw to be very limited or horrendously out of date - I stumbled upon

A site for expats and 'global minds'. Now I'm not professing to posses a global mind, but I thought i'd give it a go. So far so good - you sign up, they assess your 'globalness' (i passed happily) and you get put in touch with other Expats in your city of choice.

The big test comes tomorrow night - when virtual becomes real - there is a gathering in a high-end Warsaw bar/club. So no more messaging and poking, creating and adding to forums (loads of v helpful info for me about opening bank accounts and other highly practical stuff). No its time to meet and talk for real. Lets hope I'm global enough for 'em. I'll report back on the fun.

I guess the comms point of this - yes thats what I do so I'd better make an intelligent observation - is another great segmentation opportunity. Hence thats why The Economist and Allianz and Skype appear to be partners - global brands for global folks. I say appear, as I'm kind of waiting for the payback. This is a value exchange, they have put me in touch with some new (hopefully nice) people - surely they will want my attention as a result. Nothing obvious yet, I'm interested to see how it works and how Internations monetise what is a pretty impressive site.

Anyway lets see how it goes - I am a notoriously bad networker (tend to talk to my friends only) but as I said, its like Leeds in October '91 - there's only one way to enjoy this, time to get out of the comfort zone.

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