Building an Effective Network in Victoria as an International Entrepreneur

As it’s commonly said: “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” In your home country, you are likely to have an active network of support which can help you grow, but in Australia, you may need to build this network from scratch. For those of you who are new to Australia, how do you build this network? Who can you talk to?

For anyone in a new country, establishing your network can be one of the most challenging things to do. Fortunately, Victoria has a very warm, welcoming, and multicultural ecosystem of networks that you can join, and meeting the right people on your startup journey can make all the difference. Here are the steps you need to follow to start building your network:

1. Make a profile on LinkedIn

In Australia, LinkedIn has become one of the most important social media platforms to promote yourself and can sometimes be more important than having a business card. Here are some quick tips when creating your profile:

- Have a very clean photograph. Plain background, no selfies, business professional or smart casual clothing, and a smile!
Make it easy to contact you (if you want to be contacted). Leave your email in your summary and job description.
Have all your details up to date, including your current location. If you want to meet people in Victoria, let people know you’re in Victoria!
Update your current employment with a summary of what you are doing and your achievements. Your previous experience can be just the title and a summary of your role.
The summary at the top of your profile is often mistaken as a place to summarise your experience—instead, it should be about your vision! Who you are as a person and what your professional goals are.
For international entrepreneurs, showcase your skills and languages! You can select the top 5 skills you want to be displayed on your profile, which means people who visit your page are more likely to recommend you on those skills.
Don’t list more than 15 skills as it can oversaturate your page.
Once you’ve built your LinkedIn profile, you can always get it converted to a regular resume on Resumonk.

2. Join Slack

Slack is a popular (and free) chat platform available both as an app and through your browser. It is commonly used by startup businesses and the startup community. Privately, businesses use it as a way to quickly communicate with each other via dedicated channels. Slack is also used as a way to reach a large group of people. As you grow your network, you will be invited to more slack channels. For starters, join the largest startup community in Victoria, the Startup Victoria Slack.

3. Join Meetup

Meetup is an online platform that allows you to ‘meet up’ with different communities based on shared interests and hobbies. Many of the local startup communities use this platform to hold a range of events relevant to entrepreneurs in Australia to bring people together.

To join Meetup:

- Create a profile using a smart casual photo.
- Write an introduction about yourself and your interests.
- Choose the right location (Melbourne).
- Choose the right interest from the start (Startups, Entrepreneurship, etc).
- Join the meetups you think you might be interested in and check out when the next event is, then go and start talking to people.

Below is a list including some of the most relevant meetup groups to follow:

International Entrepreneurs in Australia
The Entrepreneur Club Melbourne
Entrepreneurship and Innovation Hub
Free Speed Networking
Melbourne Entrepreneurs
Melbourne FinTech Startups Meetup
Melbourne Silicon Beach
Melbourne Startup Founder 101
Startup Victoria’s Meetup

Australians are typically warm and friendly, but it doesn’t hurt to have the following things in mind when talking to people:

- Be curious and don’t be afraid of asking questions—they too have something they want to share. Listen and try to help them first if you can.
- Take their business cards and connect with them on LinkedIn.
- Australia has a strong coffee culture. If you want to talk to someone more personally after a networking event, offer to buy them a coffee or tea—but make sure that you’re not wasting their time. Be prepared with questions to ask them, and what you need help with.
- Make sure you research the people you are talking to so that you are prepared when you talk to them. Look at their LinkedIn profile and see what they’ve done, and read their articles and updates.
- If you have an idea for a startup and you want feedback, be clear about what questions you’re asking. Don’t just ask: “Do you think my idea is good?” Focus on specific questions instead.
- Brush up on startup industry keywords and terms.

If you have the budget, you can print some business cards from websites such as VistaPrint or MOO.

Finally, when you do start to build your network and connect with people on LinkedIn, don’t be afraid of writing down who they are, what they do, what do they need, and how you can meet their need. Consider an online Customer Relationship Management (CRMs) such as Hubspot or Zoho to manage your network. If you want a simpler solution, using Evernote or even Google Sheets can be a good way of keeping track of who you’ve been talking to, and why.