By Sarah de Sainte Croix, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Since its launch in 2007 the global networking organization, InterNations, has been steadily gathering momentum. Offering a feature-rich web site and a well organized regular monthly get-together, the Rio community is growing quickly, and the next event is on Thursday December 15th.
Vera Sardinha, one of the InterNations Rio “Ambassadors” explains: “[The] main goal for December was to make sure our members would feel the Christmas spirit even though being away from home… so we found a cozy place were they can drink wine and taste some really nice french food, with a Christmas deco and nice music.”
By the time the New Year clocks in, the organizers are expecting to have reached the 2,000 member mark for the Rio de Janeiro group, and according to Ruben Weishut, InterNations Rio Ambassador, that is as good an excuse for a party as any.
“We are planning a New Year’s get-together in January which will also celebrate welcoming our 2,000th member,” Weishut said, “It might even be our 2012th member by then!”
“At the last count we had 1,985 members in Rio and every day we get one or two new ones, so we are on course to have at least 2,000 people by the end of the year,” he explained.
As a networking organization, the increase in membership is great news for InterNations Rio. The organization has a presence in more than 250 cities across the world, and in São Paulo and Rio alone, there are around 6,500 members.
“It’s great that InterNations is growing – the more members there are, the more people there are to meet and socialize with, and possibly do business with,” said one member.
However, a small price to pay for the boom in numbers is that non-albatross members in Rio (those who sign up to the network for free) will now have to pay an entrance fee to attend events.
Weishut explained that with the increase in members comes an increase in administration and production costs, which has to be funded from somewhere. “You usually pay around R$20 [at the door], but for that you get your entrance and a free caipirinha, so it’s quite a good deal,” he says.
What makes InterNations unique amongst the variety of social networking websites and social groups for expatiates is its focus on professional networking. Weishut says, “People come to our events to enjoy themselves, but they also bring their business cards.”
Moreover, the organization brings together the best of both the virtual and the physical worlds, combining active online forums with regular ‘real world’ meetings.
“The offline get-together in Rio really convinced me of InterNations. It is so much more than just an online platform,” comments Rio member, Ben Bagley (UK), on the InterNations site.
Weishut explains that InterNations is a trust based organization, and potential new members must be invited to join by an existing member, or request an invitation from the headquarters in Munich.
“HQ can be quite picky, they don’t accept everyone,” said Weishut, “The most important criteria is that you live – or have lived – abroad, or at least have strong foreign interests … You must also speak English. We consider all out members to be ‘Global Minds’, [in other words] they like other cultures, they are open minded and they are interested in meeting other Global Minds.”
For those who want to get a taste of InterNations Rio before the big event in January, the next scheduled get-together is planned for this Thursday December 15th at the Coccinelle Bistrô in Centro from 6:30PM. For more details or to sign up visit the website.