If you’re anything like the typical native English speaker who’s come to Madrid by choice, not assignment, you’ve probably found yourself in the sometimes-seedy world of English language teaching. Now, some of us are natural-born teachers and are passionate about the work, but many aren’t and just want out. Regardless of which camp you fall in, everybody dreams of getting a better job or even starting their own business. But as a foreigner in Madrid, just how do you do that?
If you’re looking for work, nothing beats having the right connections in Madrid. And if you’re an entrepreneur, you’ll need all the support you can get from like-minded people who can not only help you formulate and refine your business idea, but also hook you up with a gestor, potential partners, or even sales leads. It’s all about the enchufe here in Madrid, and if you don’t plug in, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
Here are four English-language networking groups in Madrid that can help you meet the right people and get your new professional life off the ground.
Created back in 2008 and with nearly six thousand members in their LinkedIn group, Guiri Business is the largest and most established English-language professional networking group in Spain.
Guiri Business attracts people who are actively looking to develop business or find a job. This isn’t a social club — it’s for Spain-based, foreign professionals who are interested in serious business networking. That’s why the founders chose LinkedIn to host the group: “LinkedIn is a platform for professionals and we wanted to keep it strictly business-only,” says Brian Heinen, the group’s co-founder and manager of the online community.
Many members use the monthly networking drinks to seek out particular people or to put a personality to the CV and headshot on LinkedIn. There’s no pressure to introduce yourself or present your credentials. After all, your professional resumé is already online on LinkedIn. “If a member wants to come and talk to specific people, they can — or if they just want to be there and hear what others are talking about — they can, without feeling they have to actively participate,” he adds.
Its free-form style, too, is deliberate, as people tend to naturally group themselves into threes during the monthly networking drinks events — the perfect balance to discuss business in a social atmosphere, says Brian. “It allows members to look into other members’ eyes and discover which leads they feel comfortable pursuing as customers without the pressure of scheduled meetings.”
The Madrid subgroup counts over one thousand members and recently got a reboot with a change of leaders. Its monthly networking event is a smaller, more intimate gathering compared to previous years when participation numbers used to swell to two hundred members at a single event. Lilian Hermans, the incoming leader of Guiri Business in Madrid, expects that the numbers will grow but is pleased with the turnout at the first networking drinks since the reboot. “It was great,” she says. “After the event, an English entrepreneur sent me an e-mail thanking me for organizing the event and said he made a lot of interesting contacts from it. So you see that it’s very easy to network. It’s really a valuable thing.”
Bottom line: If you are serious about finding business opportunities or a job in a laid-back environment, Guiri Business might be the right group for you.