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Predeparture social networking for expats

I have already written a blog post about doing some pre-departure business networking before moving to London, Get LinkedIn London. This blog post is about how expats and their expatriate partners can build on their social network before the move to London. Finding out what is available and participating in will make settling into London more enjoyable and less stressful.

  • Contact the Embassy
    Before you leave you should check what your Embassy in London has on offer regarding social groups, business events, celebrations, festivities, etc. This is a good starting point when you are new in London and they often organise social meetings for the expatriate partners as well.
  • Friends
    Ask your friends, colleagues and family network. Surely they will know people who live or have lived in London before. This is a good source of knowledge about the pros and cons of different neighbourhoods, habits, lifestyle, schools, etc.
  • Blogs
    To get an idea of the experience of other expats and expatriate partners living and working in London, search for blogs written by expats living in London. There are lots of informative and funny blogs available; just google ‘expat blogs in London’ and you will find ones you like.
  • Internations
    Why not sign up with Internations on www.internations.org? This is a worldwide organisation that organises lots of social events in the country where you are planning to settle. In London there is a huge group and they organise lots of social gatherings. Signing up is free and it also has a great online forum where you can ask questions regarding living, working and general information on London.
  • Meetup groups
    These groups are a great way to get to know people in London. You can look for a group with similar interests on www.meetup.com. For example you can go hiking in the weekends with one group of people, have a literature lecture another night or meet up with another group for a pint in the pub. This will ensure you already have some social activities lined up before you arrive or when you just have arrived in London.
  • Local council
    If you already know where you will be living, you can check your local council’s website. There you can see for instance what activities there are on offer and existing charities you can be involved with. If you want to do some voluntary work, they can point you in the right direction.
  • Church
    If you are a regular worshipper in your home country it is a good idea to check if they have connections with churches in London. The church is always a good way to get involved in the local community and also to be able to meet people from your home country. They always have a good support network and are welcoming. Often many activities organised by local churchwa can be attended by non church go-ers.







3 Comments for this Post
  • Rachel Yates
    March 7, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    The idea of having someone you ‘know’ (even never having met them) to meet in your new location is immensely comforting, and keeps you looking forward rather than back. I try to encourage people to join Facebook and Twitter (http://wp.me/p1MwKk-11f) and use search terms to explore groups and networks; using expat blog listings to contact blog authors (who after all, are all about sharing the expat experience, so in my experience are hugely helpful!) for recommendations and groups, and to ask whether the workplace has an expat spouse group. Voluntary work is always a good way to meet people, but you can get rather overwhelmed trying to juggle the demands of settling in and volunteering, so I tend to suggest people try it once they are already a little way down the road and can protect their own time a little better.
    The best advice that I had was that it was a ‘numbers game’ and to just focus on meeting as many people as possible to find the ones who become lifelong friends. It does mean accepting invitations and meeting people that you might otherwise avoid, but it works.


  • Maren Dollwey
    March 7, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    This is a very useful list! One thing to maybe add that I have found useful myself when moving abroad and that others have also mentioned as helpful in improving their cross-cultural adjustment, is to look up groups/locations for your hobbies. I have found it helpful to focus primarily on the 1-2 hobbies that are most important for me and find connections for these hobbies. For example, if you love reading, looking into a local book club. For me it was equestrian sports, so the first thing I do when I move somewhere new is to look up the nearest horse stables in the area and go to check them out.


    • Samsuddin
      April 21, 2012 at 4:57 am

      I was an ex-pat in Sweden for 4 years in the 80s and I would have to add the advice Integrate! .I was shcoked at the number of ex-pats I met there who had no Swedish friends or couldn’t speak the language. I buckled down (while working full time) and spoke only Swedish after 18 months and the majority of my friends were Swedes. The ex-pat community *can* be interesting, but the most interesting part of being and ex-pat is the country and culture you’re *in*, not the one you’re *from*!



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