Here are my first steps to not simply finding work but become an industry influencer abroad. Yes, even if you know no-one and don’t speak the language.
I’ve done this twice, in two completely different environments. The first was in Japan where I spoke the language but had minimal industry experience and again in Germany, where I had finished my studies, had industry experience but I didn't know a soul or didn’t speak the language.
These two countries couldn’t be more different and I was in different phases in my life. However after 8 years, I’ve learnt something and I'd like to share that with you.
When I was in Japan, I had an incredible circle of friends, both Japanese and internationals. I had a great job and did work that was playing to my strengths. When people would reach out to me and say how did you build a life in Japan like that? Of course, I would share my strategies. However, rather than follow these strategies people would often think of excuses why these strategies we're exclusive to me and useless to the. Excuses such as, "It’s easy for you because you speak Japanese." Or more bizarrely, "It’s easy for you because you're blonde."
When the Tohoku earthquake happened in 2011, I was sent to Germany with no word of German. Within a year after my studies I had started a business and was presenting regularly in front of large audiences, including at TEDx ESCP. The comments changed to, "but everyone is Germany speaks English" or "you look European so it’s easier for you."
There will always be an excuse about why it’s been easier for you than it will be for them. I sat down and started thinking. How could I summarise what works and what doesn’t work, despite the language or cultural differences?
Here it is.
#1: Become an active, contributing member in your target community
Going to start up events or meet ups is not enough to guarantee you job. If you’re in the field political sciences, architecture, medicine or fashion, you need to be writing, blogging or actively contributing to platforms where your community meets.
I hear you, "maybe that might work for marketing/sales/design but I want to a career in politics and be the Ambassador of Australia. And this world functions differently, I can’t get in contact with this community." Of course you can.
The right story will open any door. This is why you need to move to tip two.
#2: Build a network of industry influencers
If you call and ask someone if they’ve got time to go for a coffee the answer will be no. Call someone and ask them for an interview as you’ve been following their work and you’d like to feature them on your website and the answer will be yes.
Email them. Call them. Write them. Serve them.
#3: You don’t need a job to work
People are not interested in what you can do, they’re interested in what you can do for them. The best way to serve a market with your skills is to not go looking for a job but to go looking for problems and solve them.
You could write a potential employers or client and say, “Hi, I’ve just moved from Australia to Berlin and I am looking for a job” or “Hi, I’ve just moved from Australia to Berlin and I’d love to use my international experience to solve a problem you’re dealing with in your business right now.”
Feels different right?
#4: Fall in love with the city
Japan was my first love. It was my first love for many reasons. I built my life there coming from a place of love for my environment. This was the exact opposite to how I felt coming to Berlin. When I arrived in Berlin I hated it. The results I was getting reflected exactly was I was feeling. It wasn’t for me. Everyone was too hipster, too vegan. I very quickly recognised unless I was going to change my approach I’m going to make things very difficult. I began finding ways to love the city, and Berlin began sending me messages to let me know that she's been noticing.
Good things come from feeling good.
I have a questions for you, what have you done to build your career in your new home?
Share your thoughts with me in the comments.