Founding Partner of the expat networking event, Brian Heinen, reflects on ten years of organising Guiri Business.
How did the idea to create the Guiri Business community and networking events develop?
Originally, my old business partner had the idea to start a LinkedIn group, and asked me to be his partner. I launched the monthly networking drinks soon after we started the group, and asked Richard Cardwell and the Metropolitan Magazine to get on board, as a valuable voice in the local entrepreneur community.
The concept of Guiri Business is to nurture an inclusive business narrative and focus on better jobs and better collaborations – we do that through empowering a community of professionals with networking, business insights, and events. We encourage building a community that shares information, and looks to build up their profiles by being doorways for opportunities, helping navigate barriers and overcome antiquated professional norms.
The idea is that we are internationals, but no matter where you come from and regardless of your culture, country, gender, race or educational background, everyone can feel like a Guiri when trying to find a job, start a new business, send out resumes for a new career or look for better opportunities. It can feel like a completely new language, set of customs and culture in this way.
What makes Guiri Business different from other networking events in the city?
From the beginning, we have stayed committed to professional-focused activities, and reaching out to any and all groups that want to promote inclusive business activities. The community was built on LinkedIn, and the majority of our members communicate through the site, so it has acted as a filter to attract professionals. I think it is that, and our consistency to be engaged with the business community that sets us apart.
How has the Guiri community changed over the years?
We have become less reliant on LinkedIn. Although LinkedIn has been the most valuable platform by far for creating business opportunities for my company and this group, the change has also lead to more opportunities to get further involved with promoting other business events on our website, which were previously promoted only on LinkedIn. The great thing is that I still see people who have been attending our monthly networking drinks over the ten years comment on articles in the group.