Want to expand your professional network?
The pandemic put in-person events on hold, making it harder to cement new professional connections. Although online events continued, networking via zoom is not always ideal as it is more difficult to read body language.
Networking groups were back in full swing last year, with in-person talks, workshops and gatherings.
This article covers why you should network, how you should approach events, and where to build your network in Luxembourg and the greater region.
Daunting though it might seem to enter a room of people you have never met, introduce yourself, and start talking, many high-flying professionals, entrepreneurs and creatives claim their network gave their career or business a boost.
Building a personal network can be easy today through social media and plenty of forums to ask questions. It is trickier building a professional or business one, but not impossible, although you must be committed to interacting, exchanging ideas, sharing experiences, and communicating regularly.
Do’s and don’ts of networking
Do bring a contact card with your name, telephone and email. Scrabbling around for paper to scribble your details on will not give the right impression.
Don’t make networking an exercise in self-promotion of yourself or your business. It’s a turn off. Far better to build a two-way relationship with someone.
Do think about your body language and what signals you might give. Folded arms or scrolling through your phone won’t make you approachable.
Don’t worry if you only talk to one or two people, it’s not about circulating, it’s more important to make the right contacts and cement them.
Do approach someone new. Chatting with someone you already know isn’t really the point of networking.
Do know what you want to talk about and perhaps prepare an elevator pitch. Think about your core values so you can communicate them succinctly.
Don’t pitch and run. People will remember you for being rude rather than what you said.
Do listen to others and interact. Come with some prepared icebreakers or try to find common ground in conversations.
Where can I network?
To start, check websites such as Eventbrite’s networking section which lists everything from business, social, nature, science and sustainability events.
Entrepreneurs in particular should look out for networking events or regular meet ups. The Luxembourg House of Fintech has a regular Fintech Friday session, while the House of Entrepreneurship holds recurrent online and in-person workshops on every aspect of starting or running a business.
FEDIL, the business federation of Luxembourg hosts regular roundtables for professionals working in HR. If you belong to a professional association check if they run regular after-work meet ups.
A reader recommends BNI Luxembourg (French-speaking), a business network with branches in Luxembourg, Belgium and France, that holds regular group meetings in Echternach, Leudelange, and Petange. You can attend a couple of times before joining the network.
The Enterprise Europe Network holds matchmaking and pitch events in Luxembourg and the greater region.
Moovijob organises a number of job fairs for those with experience or those just starting out, and numerous networking events. They will be hosting their annual career fair at LuxExpo the box on 24 March. It's a good place to meet potential employers but also attend free conferences and workshops.
B2Fair – Business to Fairs concept promotes business cooperation and exchange through trade fairs and matchmaking, or even brokering business meetings in some cases. You can find out what they are organising on their Facebook page. The University of Luxembourg also organises a number of events and conferences that provide an ideal platform for some networking.
Meetup has a Luxembourg Networking Group that seeks to promote better networks regardless of profession and regularly organises events and workshops. Business magazine Paperjam also organises informal events for 50-80 people as part of its Networking Circle. Aperinetwork organises events at restaurants, bars, co-working spaces or sports clubs on a regular basis.
Don't under-estimate the power of co-working. There are several co-working spaces in Luxembourg that have led to matches between entrepreneurs and professionals. Many organise regular networking lunches or nights for those renting desk and office space. Read our article on co-working spaces to find out where you can create an office if you're a freelancer or small business.
The Network was established some 30 years ago as an English-speaking multicultural organisation that promotes the development and advancement of women working in professions in Luxembourg. An annual membership costs €60 and will get you free entry into events. In April you can attend an event on building a business and in June there will be one on rebuilding your career after a break.
The Creme Ladies Club Luxembourg organises regular networking dinners and brunches, many on the topic of starting your own business. They’re an ideal way to glean advice or talk through business blocks with other experienced professionals.
The non-profit Women in Business is an independent professional association that brings together businesswomen, via networking at all levels from CEOs and managers to small business owners. Many of the events are sports events (tennis or golf) but there are also social and cultural events.
For something less formal, LUX WMN organises regular networking evenings and breakfasts. In the past they have also supported women entrepreneurs by organising markets to showcase local products.
Chambers of Commerce
Luxembourg is lucky to have quite a few Chambers of Commerce – America, Britain, Ireland, India, New Zealand, and the list goes on. Most organise regular events often on specific business topics, which offer an ideal opportunity to learn something new, and meet or network with people outside of your usual sphere. Often events are free of charge.
The British Chamber of Commerce has a New Year event to welcome new members hosted by the British Ambassador to Luxembourg on 24 January, while the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce has an online workshop on the regulatory framework for new businesses in Luxembourg. It also hosts several international trade events every month and you can check out a calendar of these events here.