Networking: Saigon Style

The expatriate community is pretty tight all over the world. We are the foreigners, usually westerners, who work in countries other than our own. You can be an Expat in the Europe but it’s really in Third World countries that the name sticks and has meaning.

When your skin color or size makes you an object of curiosity you know you’re not in Kansas. What seems to happen then is that you bond with the other Expats because you’re all in the same boat. Last night we were literally in the same boat – a 3 hour cruise on the Saigon River hosted by EuroCham, the European Chamber of Commerce.

There is a lot of networking and there are a lot of networking events in Saigon. There are also a number of Chambers of Commerce. There is AmCham, the Americans, CanCham, AusCham, EuroCham – you get the idea. And, the Chambers all host networking events at least once a month. So there is plenty of opportunity to meet and mingle with other Expats. In an American city a formally described “networking event” would have a contrived, forced air about it. Real men and women don’t go to networking events to meet people and make meaningful connections. But, here they do.

Last night about 40 of us boarded a double decker Chinese junk with dark polished wood surfaces and salons open to the outside air. It was a beautiful night, but it was preceded by 2 hours of hard rain so our timing was good. As we entered the lower salon we were greeted by servers offering special mango cocktails and trays of small appetizers. After we got underway the cocktails were replaced with beer and wine and a beautiful small buffet was laid out.

In the middle of the evening one of the servers approached me and asked if I would like a massage. I tried not to look surprised and after I recovered my composure I said yes and was led to the stern where a woman had set up a chair and was giving 10 minute shoulder and head massages. Now this is my idea of networking. As I returned to the salon a magician was setting up to do a short show of card and coin tricks. I rolled my eyes at first, but the guy was really good.

I had never seen Saigon from the river. At night it’s quite beautiful, and I did meet a handful of interesting people that I will follow up with. This is networking Saigon style.


  1. Dear Jack~
    M. just forwarded a link to your blog and it's been wonderful to catch up! You write so well, and you are more brave than I will ever be. Thank you and blessings,

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