Written by Emily Claire Hughes
Social media can be a game-changer for networking, especially for women. Just ask the 75+ people who attended the “Women of Influence” networking event at Mindspace Rödingsmarkt in Hamburg, hosted by myself, Emily Claire Hughes, a couple of months ago. Every single one of the women in attendance found out about the event via social media. It seemed fitting, as I’m a self-proclaimed social media lover for deeper reasons than you might think.
You see, when I first relocated to Portugal from the bustling streets of New York City, I thought I would slide into the tight-knit beach community of a lifetime. Instead, I landed in a gorgeous seaside town and, for the first time in my life, felt completely and utterly lost, lonely, and left out.
- “Women of Influence” event at Mindspace Rödingsmarkt in Hamburg brought together over 75 attendees to meet, mingle and learn.
The need: a community. The solution: social media
I had to take action and had three objectives.
- Initiate: making friends
- Initiate: navigating a new career
- Initiate: building a community
Where did I find all of these? Social media.
I kid you not. Every meaningful coffee date, new client, or fellow ex-pat conversation was initiated via a comment, a DM, or a follow.
Four years later I used those same social (media) skills to grow my career and community not only in Portugal But also in Germany and beyond. So while you can definitely spend too much time on Instagram scrolling through videos of guinea pig parties, you can also start leveraging your Instagram and Facebook accounts to purposefully and positively network with people who just might change your life.
While those words might sound dramatic, they’re honestly true. When I moved to Germany and wanted to connect with inspiring, motivating women, I found more meaningful connections via Instagram and Facebook groups than I could have ever imagined. And when you’re starting out as a business, entrepreneur, or freelancer, finding a support system and community of “your people” is vital to your success.
How to start your community?
#1 Use hashtags on Instagram.
Let’s start with hashtags. Yep, these weird things that you toss at the end of an Instagram post can really be a game-changer. How? Take for instance the world of expats, or people who have relocated to another country. In Portugal, I found myself as an expat for the first time, so I started adding hashtags like #expatlife and #expatinportugal to my captions. (To preface this, I’m not an influencer getting thousands of hits on my posts.)
But you know what started happening when I started using the hashtags of the community to which I unknowingly belonged? I received messages and comments from other expats. And better yet, several of them lived nearby. Cue in coffee dates, beach sessions, and coworking days with other women looking to build their own community in a new place, just like me!
#2 Join Facebook groups.
Beyond hashtags, I’ve found buzzing networks of both locals and foreigners in a surprising place, in both of my international moves: Facebook. I won’t lie, I thought Facebook only existed these days for conspiracy theories or my older relatives wanting to lurk on once-a-year posts from the family. Ohhh, how wrong I was. A quick search of Facebook groups in your own city will reveal a gold mine of networking opportunities for both personal and professional purposes.
Take for instance one of the first groups I joined in Hamburg. It’s a Facebook group specifically for career-driven women in Hamburg looking to connect for events, have questions answered, and just support each other in general. The two administrators of this group were some of the very first to book tickets to our bustling event at Mindspace and have been some of my biggest supporters since starting my own business. Instagram can do many things, but Facebook groups reign supreme in my book for conversations, events, and community functions.
An honorable mention for networking apps goes to Bumble BFF (like the dating app, but for finding new friends). It’s still catching on in Europe and not nearly as popular here as it is in the US.
- Content creator Sarah Ploss joined Emily to talk about influencer marketing at the “Women of Influence” event.
Find your people
While I could go on forever about the importance of “finding your people” as a woman in business, I know there are challenges to finding these people in the form of cultural barriers (hello, German directness), branching out of your niche, or simply not knowing where to look. At the very least, I beg you to start with social media. If you have time to doom scrolling through OOTDs (Outfit of the Day photos), then you probably have time to search a few hashtags and join a few groups.
Who knows, what follows might be as powerful as an invitation to a Mindspace networking event filled with your future clients, customers, and cheerleaders…
About Emily Claire Hughes
Emily Claire Hughes is a marketing storyteller, who is fluent in ‘Influencer’. With a focus on sustainability and fashion, she has spent years helping B2C companies expand their reach, increase social media engagement, and craft campaigns that convert. An avid traveler, she currently lives in Hamburg, Germany, where she also hosted the “Women of Influence” networking event at Mindspace Rödingsmarkt. Stay in the loop and follow her on Instagram.