Networking can be a challenge; it can be nerve-racking, even stressful. When you network in a place which isn't your birthplace, you can add feeling awkward to the mix. But it does not have to be that way.
I was born in Venezuela and before I moved to The Netherlands some 20 years ago, I lived in 8 different countries. During the first 7 years here I worked 70% of my time abroad as what I call an "in-transit consultant" (in with the plane for a job and couple of days off to the next job). When my daughter was born I choose to work and live differently and became just a very occasional "in-transit" consultant to then become a Dutch consultant. Well, I can tell you that this trip has not been an easy one… I thought life here was similar to what I was used to. With the years I realised nothing was more far from the truth. I still struggle, with the difference that I now know things I would have liked to have known 20 years ago.
How networking works in different countries
In many countries (Latin America, Mediterranean countries, Africa and some Middle Eastern countries) private and work life are the same. The lack of boundaries between work and private makes people more bounded with each other, hence they invest more in the relationships. People tend to see their network as an extended family. The downside is when things go wrong you can find yourself without friends or relations at once. Whether you are a local or a newcomer, in these countries you will easily find somebody willing to show you the ropes and introduce you to a lot of new people.
In the Netherlands and in other Northern European countries, as opposed to Southern countries, there are definite boundaries between private and work and between groups (sport groups, school mates, college mates, etc). In The Netherlands neither social nor professional boundaries do crisscross. It's all kept in compartments. For example my daughter had a boyfriend who was a bit older than her friends, did not study at the same high school nor did he live in the same town as most of her friends. Result? No one of Kendra's network got to meet him. A year later they still went to separate parties and concerts because the friends did not belong to the same group! In Venezuela they would have been hopping together to all kinds of events and made new friends together leading a very busy social life.