Malte Zeeck, Founder & Co-CEO of InterNations, met numerous volunteers from our InterNations Communities in Rotterdam and The Hague.
For the second time this year, after my trip to Malta in April, my membership in the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), a peer-to-peer network for founders and business owners, took me abroad — this time, to the Netherlands.
After I got up at 4:30 in the morning and flew to Rotterdam in order to participate in a full-day workshop at the EO summit, I also attended a new event format for getting together with the volunteers from our local InterNations Communities.
A New Kind of Get-Together
Our Rotterdam Ambassadors — Algina, Hanane, and Sourish — had been so kind as to organize a get-together for all our InterNations volunteers from both Rotterdam and The Hague. After all, the most important port of the Netherlands and the country’s seat of government are only separated by fewer 30 km or a 30-minute car ride.
Our Rotterdam Ambassadors Team is currently a dynamic and highly international mixture of a Dutch-born finance specialist with Moroccan roots, a Lithuanian student and researcher, and an IT analyst from Kolkata. This trio picked just the perfect location for our meet-up: De Machinist, a restaurant in the popular neighborhood of Delfshaven. About 30 volunteers supporting the InterNations Communities in Rotterdam and The Hague followed their invitation.
Generally speaking, the Netherlands has a very large and lively foreign community, and our InterNations Communities in these particular cities are fairly large and pretty active as well. In Rotterdam, our 5,000 members can choose among nearly 20 InterNations Groups for various interests, from African culture to business networking.
The community in The Hague is even busier. Here, around 10,000 members meet up twice a month for the InterNations Official Events in town, and more than three dozen groups host numerous activities on top of that. We will even be introducing our very first Newcomers’ Event in The Hague this month.
The Backbone of Every InterNations Community
This thriving community life wouldn’t be possible without the support of our volunteers, and it was a great experience for me to meet so many of them: they are the foundation of our communities and the backbone of the InterNations experience, creating all those amazing opportunities for international people to meet in real life, get to know one another, share their interests, and find new friends, often far from home.
I truly could not thank them enough for sharing our vision and bringing our members together — but I hope my speech (as well as the fact that the drinks were on me, or rather on InterNations) helped to show them how much we appreciate their commitment.
I also used the opportunity to give a glimpse “behind the scenes” of InterNations as a company, sharing our long-term vision, our short-term strategy, and our product development roadmap, and encouraging everyone to ask questions. And ask they did!
This Q&A session turned into quite an intensive discussion of various aspects concerning InterNations in general and community life in particular: how to react to members repeatedly signing up for events without actually showing up; how to negotiate better deals with event venues; what our plans for our upcoming app are; what our social media strategy is like, and many more.
A Productive Exchange of Ideas
It certainly wasn’t just me doing all the talking: it was especially a great opportunity for the volunteers to meet up and to exchange their own ideas. Connections were established; plans to promote each other’s events were made; visits to the other community were scheduled. While I was listening to these conversations, I also learned a lot — about their personal success stories, about new friendships found through InterNations, or “just” about how much fun they’d had at the latest special activity.
There were also a few young entrepreneurs who are just starting their own business and therefore asked me for a bit of advice, from entrepreneur to entrepreneur, and I was more than happy to share my own experience of successfully getting a start-up off the ground. We all talked until it was rather late, but I think everyone enjoyed the growing sense of a community spirit among the volunteers as much as I did.
Another heart-felt thank you to everyone who could make it that night, and particularly to Algina, Hanane, and Sourish for making it happen! This is definitely a new event format that I’d love to attend again, perhaps in Rotterdam and The Hague, or perhaps in another of our 390 InterNations Communities around the globe.
(Image credit: Malte Zeeck/InterNations)