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🐧 How to build relationships in new markets

INSIDE: Cold DM Scripts, Identify Right Profiles, Info Interview Questions
October 15, 2023

“Networking” gets a bad rap.

The truth is: Building relationships is a critical skill—especially if you want to move to a new market.

Today in 10 minutes or less, you’ll learn:

  • 👩‍💼 Identify Profiles for Whom You Want to Meet
  • 🤝 How to Tap Your Existing Networks
  • 💌 Cold DMs: Reaching People Outside of Your Network
  • 🗣️What to Talk About in Informational Interviews

FROM OUR LABS

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For example:

Withholding Taxes.

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We’ll cover this topic and more in my upcoming course, Expat Investing System (Q4 2023), which demystifies how to setup your international investments to save you $$$.

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🫶 How to Build Relationships in New Markets

Step 1: Decide on your goal

Are you moving to a new country—for career, love, school, or simply a new adventure?

Get clear on what type of relationships you’re looking to build.

You may be looking to:

  • Make friends
  • Find a new job
  • Learn about a new industry
  • Meet potential business partners
  • Meet other people in your profession

Example

Whenever I get asked, “How do I transition into a new industry?”

I tell them to identify people who are 2 steps ahead of them. People who recently transitioned into the industry and on a similar trajectory will offer the most up-to-date advice on how to break into the industry.

Step 2: Identify whom you want to meet

Create a hypothesis for 2-3 profiles of different people you’d like to connect with.

Consider:

  • Who will you relate to the most?
  • What are you looking to learn about?
  • Who might be super connectors in your industry?
  • What type of backgrounds and experiences will offer unique perspectives?

I want to emphasize this is an iterative process. It doesn’t need to be 100% perfect at the start.

Example

Let’s take when I moved from the US to Singapore and searched for product leadership roles.

Here’s the profiles I created:

  • Profile A: Super connectors (VCs, recruiting agencies)
  • Profile B: People who made a transition like you (other tech professionals who moved to X country from Y country)
  • Profile C: Local product managers (people in your line of work)

Personally, I loved chatting the most with Profile B. They were similar to me and could share unique observations about how their lives in Singapore were different from back in the US.

Step 3: Tap your existing networks

One of the things I’ve noticed about most driven people I meet:

They have great second- and third-degree connections that go completely underutilized.

(I’m guilty of this too.)

Take 1 hour to take stock of your relationships.

Write down their name, what profiles they relate to, and who they’re connected to that is interesting.

Groups

  • Friends
  • Friends of friends
  • Current & former colleagues
  • School alumni
  • Sports teams
  • Clubs & associations

Example:

Take my friend who is a tech executive and ex-Uber.

Uber has an active global alumni network— the company itself is present in 70+ countries and 10k+ cities.

Whenever my friend has to travel for business, one of the first things he does is reach out to other Uber alumni in the city. As a result, he gets to meet new and interesting people wherever he goes!

Step 4: Reach out to people outside of your network

Once you start exhausting your existing network, it’s time to start reaching out to new people.

I’ve personally used cold emails and DMs to reach founders/CEOs, investors, hiring managers, and senior executives. If I can do it, you can do too.

The reality is that most DMs are horribly written, so you can take advantage of this.

Here’s a quick example:

💡 Be a giver, not a taker

Every day, I receive 5-10 Linkedin DMs from people who want free help, seek an investment, or sell their service.

There’s nothing wrong with shilling, but the problem comes down to the message.

Compare the following:

(A) “Can I please schedule a 1 hour meeting with you, so I can get your advice/pitch my company?” ← No. I do not have an hour to listen to a pitch from a random stranger.

(B) ”I’ve read all your relevant posts/articles already” ← Did their homework.

”I only have 1 question - here’s how I think you’d answer it” ← Keeps things simple and shows they’re giving by doing the work for me!

”Do you agree / disagree with this?” ← Takes me 15 seconds to respond. Boom.

Example

I sent ~50 cold emails and Linkedin DMs when I was transitioning from US → Singapore (see an example below).

Out of ~50 messages:

  • ~60% responded
  • ~30% or 15 people engaged in an informal chat
  • ~15% of 8 people referred me to companies

What’s a good response rate?

Cold emails and DMs are a numbers game. Don’t get discouraged if you send out your first few messages and only hear crickets.

Personally, I see 10-40% response rates and shoot for 20% as “good.”

How many people should you DM?

I work backwards from the # conversations I want to have, which depends on the goal.

For example, if you’re learning about a new industry/market, I suggest starting with at least 10 chats. Keep going until your learnings from these chats start repeating themselves.

Assuming a 20% of DMs respond and 50% of responses setup a chat, then you’d need to send 100 DMs to setup 10 chats.

😨 Struggling to write cold email and DM scripts?

If your ChatGPT-written scripts are letting you down, don’t fret.

Download a copy of my 10 Proven Email & DM Scripts for ones I’ve used or approve of using in your relationship-building exercise.

Step 5: Setup informational interviews

Let’s say your goal is to transition into a new industry, and you’ve managed to setup a short coffee chat with a Director in this industry who shares a similar career path as you.

Awesome. Now what do you do?

You have about 20-30 minutes in this conversation to do a few things: develop a rapport with the other person, ask insightful questions, lay the foundation for a future relationship.

Don’t forget to take detailed notes.

Here are a few examples of questions to ask:

  • What was your path to get to doing X?
  • What are your favorite and/or least favorite parts of doing X?
  • What do you think is needed to be successful in doing X?
  • What has been surprising about transitioning into doing X?
  • If you had to do it all over again, how would you get to doing X?

After the meeting, send a brief thank-you email for their time, referencing a specific topic or two you discussed, and let them know you’ll keep them in the loop on your career discovery process.

Stay in touch by sharing your progress and learnings over time.

🎉 Congrats! If you’ve made it this far, you’ve built a new relationship in a new market!

🌐 Beyond your borders

🇯🇵 Foreign investors flock to Japan to buy warehouses and offices (link)

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🤩 Words from the waddle

📆 How I can help

That’s all for today!

Whenever you’re ready, here’s how I can help you:

  1. Sponsor this newsletter - Promote your business to 5k+ expat professionals and founders.
  2. Join my course waitlist - Learn essential investing skills for professionals abroad.
  3. Explore my services - Learn about my coaching & tax service for US expats.


Dexter Zhuang

Dexter is the founder of Money Abroad, a weekly newsletter and website that help professionals build wealth overseas. Over the last decade, he's been building and growing internet products across Silicon Valley and Asia at top companies like Dropbox and Xendit. His work has been featured in global publications like Business Insider, CBS, US News & World Report, and Tech in Asia. He graduated from Dartmouth College.

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