Here is an excerpt from my latest blog post for Barcelona Global:
One of the best things about being an expat is that you get the chance to reinvent yourself. Every time you settle somewhere new, you start with a fresh slate and get to choose who you want to be all over again.
But opening new doors, starting a business, or finding a job in Barcelona, also means you need to know the right people. So, how do you meet people if you don’t speak Spanish or Catalan and when networking has shifted online because of COVID?
We ask three of the city’s top networkers to share their tips on how to make friends and look for jobs in Barcelona for English speakers during a pandemic.
Professional networking ‘strangled’ by COVID
The Spanish are known to be smooth networkers and in normal times, lunches and after-work networking events in Barcelona are great opportunities to mingle, do business and catch up on office gossip, provided you speak Spanish. See my previous post about a lack of English.
Normally, there are more networking opportunities in Barcelona than most people need in a lifetime: from international meetup groups to Spanish networking events for every interest or industry.
“Things have changed a lot,employed admits Tony Anagor, a local entrepreneur and international leadership coach, who moved to Barcelona from the UK 20 years ago.
”Everything happens outside of the home in the city and networking has been strangled by COVID.” The way the Spanish network doesn’t easily translate online, he believes.
At a typical networking meeting in Barcelona, you’d usually get to speak to everyone and there would be many separate break-out conversations, which is not possible on Zoom. A lack of attention online is another issue. “You see people disconnect after a few minutes to look at their phones or check their emails on the screen while pretending to listen to the conversation.”
On the positive side, though, interactions now tend to be more focused as you only connect with people when you really want to speak to them. What this means for networkers, says Tony, is you need to do your research and seek out connections with people who can really make a difference. He warns against only mixing in expat circles, also because the community is transient.
“Make an effort with the language and don’t limit yourself to typical expat groups and events,” he says.