Networking and Cooperation within Europe

One important goal of your European networking should be establishing contact with people and organisations that can help you enter the market in another country or specific region. Trusted individuals with local knowledge are an important resource to help you make the right decisions and have the right priorities in your process of Europeanisation. And as long as your organisation is still unfamiliar to the new target audience, a good reference from a recognised local player will usually be more effective than your own communication activities.

The Importance of International Networking and Cooperation

International networking, including actively participating in pan-European associations, gives you access to key players and to information from your industry. Start, for example, by attending international association meetings and important trade fairs or congresses. You may even have the opportunity to attract the attention of the international specialist community by giving a presentation. At networking events, discussions during coffee breaks or at evening get-togethers are particularly valuable. A relaxed atmosphere is the best place to exchange experiences and lay the foundations for new partnerships and business relationships.

The importance of good partners in other European countries for a successful process of Europeanisation has been known for many years. In a Europe-wide survey, the majority of over 500 respondents ranked ‘transnational partners’ as the number one challenge in a process of Europeanisation.

The planned development and expansion of your transnational contacts and relationships should therefore be one of your main objectives during your process of Europeanisation. If your organisation has already been actively involved in international communication in Europe or beyond for some time, for example by having an organisation page on LinkedIn, then you will find it easier to build a powerful European support network. But even for organisations that were previously almost exclusively active on a national level, taking part in international communication has become much easier in the age of social media.

Three Examples: EEN, EUFA and ENFORCE

One very useful European network is the EU’s Enterprise Europe Network. It comprises more than 600 chambers of commerce and industry, technology centres, universities and development agencies from all EU member states and other countries worldwide. It aims to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) maximise their business opportunities within and outside the EU. Find out more about how the EEN can support you here. Our project partner, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Szeged, is itself a member of the EEN network. The colleagues in Hungary will be happy to help you if you would like to find out more about the EEN.

You can also find very useful transnational networks in Europe in the form of formal or informal groups of people or organisations that are permanently connected through shared views, interests or similar. Many of these interest groups or professional associations are distinct legal entities, such as our consortium partner the EU Fundraising Association e. V., which has functioned as a network of professional EU fundraisers since 2010 and is active across Europe.

If your organisation has already been internationally active for some time and you have many trustworthy contacts, you can consider institutionalising your own Europe-wide network. It is not always necessary to set up a legal entity for this. An informal network can also be very successful. Networking may perhaps be quicker if you apply for membership in an existing informal network. ENFORCE (The European Network For Research & Excellence), for example, is just such a network that was established on the initiative of our consortium partner Cyprus Project Management Society. ENFORCE brings together private organisations, professional associations, universities and chambers of commerce from within Europe, some of which have been successfully cooperating with each other for more than ten years. You can find further tips on how to search for suitable partners for networking and cooperation here.

Useful Links and Further Information

Stretch your feelers out towards Europe. Be both open and critical when selecting the organisations and people you want to work with internationally.

You can find more helpful articles and tips in this upgrade2europe learning tool, in our learning videos and in our upgrade2europe handbook. In the handbook you will also find an introduction to the topic of public relations, which includes the relevance of networking throughout a process of Europeanisation. You can use our self-assessment tool if you would like to immediately check online to what extent your organisation is well positioned for Europe.