With a bit of organisation and commitment, you can actually use your time working abroad as an excellent marketing tool. If you think of the kind of crazy ‘balloon boy’ stunts that people will do to get attention, anything that helps you stand out can be used to your advantage.
Maintaining your business network is an important consideration before you do to work abroad because it is very likely to affect your career prospects when you return to the UK. You may be thinking that you’ll slot back into your old job or do something that you’ve already lined up, but the fact is that your adventure abroad could open all sorts of doors if you’re open to the opportunity.
Here are some ideas for keeping in touch with your various contacts.
The most obvious first! It’s too easy to forget to email people, or think that you’ll look ‘desperate’ for keeping in touch by email. You may look a little desperate if you’re sending emails too regularly, especially if they’re negative or needy in tone, but a weekly, fortnightly or monthly update is fine. If you’re emailing colleagues that you’re quite friendly with, keep the email light without going on too much about the amazing time you’re having or you’ll just irritate them and they’re unlikely to want to help you when you get back.
A great way to use email from you’re working abroad is to send links or stories that relate to either where you are or something that you have in common with the person you’re sending it to – something about the industry you both work in, for example.
This is a tricky one. So many people get caught out on Facebook for ‘mixing business with pleasure’. It’s fine to be ‘friends’ with colleagues if you’re only posting relatively modest stuff, but as soon as you post a compromising picture (or someone else does) of you after having too much alcohol at a party or whatever, you’ll look totally unprofessional.
Before you go to work abroad, decide whether you’re going to use your Facebook account to keep in touch with friends or colleagues. Set up two accounts if you have to, or just post only the most gentle of pictures and comments.
Twitter is a terrific way to keep in touch with your network while working abroad as it’s so immediate and has a good reputation as a networking tool. Again, don’t forget who will be reading your tweets. Don’t post a picture or message about how drunk you are after a night out. Just use it for linking to relevant stories, tweeting about the positive aspects of your adventures and passing on ideas.
Setting up a blog to document your adventures and experiences of working abroad can lead to all sorts of interesting opportunities. A number of bloggers have found that their blogs become well-read, which gains interests from companies looking to exploit the marketing potential or even possible job offers. Decide on the theme or style of your blog though, don’t just blog about anything and everything. It could be about the restaurants you visit, or the experiences of being the only British person in a Tokyo office or whatever, but keep the tags relevant and link to plenty of other blogs to keep your readership up.