By Nathan M. Walters, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Like most international cities, Rio has a flow of foreigners living and traveling through that appreciate the chance to get together and share experiences and opportunities. The InterNations group has been providing such get-togethers with increasing success and, as a result, recently decided to add a second monthly event to the calendar.
Since its launch in 2007 the global networking organization has been steadily gathering momentum, and under the current stewardship of Portuguese expatriate Vera Sardinha and Brazilian Barbara Butland, the Rio group now boasts around 2,000 members.
The push to grow is not only related to increasing the number of members, but, more importantly, to enhance the diversity of events, groups, and activities. The group’s growth, particularly the difficulty with organizing parties large enough to accommodate the once-per-month turn-out, has prompted changes at InterNations.
“In the July event we registered almost 300 people. We believe it’s a sum of various reasons: InterNations is now known worldwide, a lot of people in Rio are spreading the word and a lot of expats are arriving every week.” says InterNations ambassador Sardinha.
The increase in guests is welcomed by InterNations, which aspires to increase numbers, though not to the level of jeopardizing the quality and cozy nature of the events. Achieving this balance has lead to the group increasing monthly events, from the current one to two per month. The move, says Sardinha, will preserve the mingle-friendly nature for which InterNations’ events are known.
InterNations’ events are as much about socializing as they are about networking. The crowds are mixed, new and old expatriates with internationally-minded locals, allowing for discussion of everything from business plans to good restaurants, concerts and the best spots at Ipanema beach.
Sardinha mentioned that the group always tries to help visitors and residents with questions. “We are getting a lot of email requesting help, suggestions and all kind of questions like, the best English school for their children, the best neighborhood to rent a house, business contacts. We have tourists that are spending some days in Rio and need some tips from real people instead of guides.”
The events, which nicely balance school night parties with business card passing opportunities, bring together a representative cross section of Rio-dwellers.
“We now have over forty nationalities present in each event so you can truly mingle with people from all over the world,” says Sardinha.
Kelly Ronchi, a Carioca with a Portuguese-language school, explains that for her InterNations is not only about business, but about the social benefits of grouping open-minded people. “The events are usually very well organized, not only the monthly events but the ‘Activity Groups,’ they give people a chance to meet new people in unique settings.”
Promoting parties in Rio is a temperamental business, but the InterNations group is succeeding with a mix of foreign and local, business and pleasure–filling a gap some felt was left by the successful Young Professional Happy Hours which ended in 2010.
On August 16th InterNations threw the first of its bi-monthly events. The organizers mentioned that: “despite of having now two events, it all ended up like we [had hoped]. About 190 people were there which means people were more comfortable and it was easier to mingle and get to know everyone around. Café Del Mar was great, the perfect atmosphere.”
For more information on how to get involved with InterNations Rio visit the group’s website here.