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Expats making expat friends by email.

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Mark_in_Bangkok
Freshman Poster
Posts: 36
Joined: December 3rd, 2017, 2:48 pm
Location: Bangkok

Expats making expat friends by email.

Post by Mark_in_Bangkok » December 6th, 2017, 5:21 pm

One of the most difficult things about being an expat for 10+ years has been the problem of making friends with other expats. (I'm in Thailand.)
I have a few pleasant neighbors and some acquaintances, yes, but, so far, no close friends with whom I can discuss nitty-gritty details of expat life here.
Other expats describe similar experience.
I am setting out to fix that problem, in a small way.

Below is a first report about what I am doing.
I'm posting this to provide encouragement for expats in other countries who may want to try something similar.

But first this warning:
This is a new idea, a first draft, with plenty of rough edges.


There are many reasons for the problem of making friends among local expats.
I've figured out some of those reasons, but I won't discuss them here.
Here, I will describe a solution which could be used among expats in any country.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

What hasn't worked:

When I first arrived here as an expat, I thought making friends would be easy – just read and post on local forums and then get acquainted in person.
I learned a lot that way, and met some local expats, but, somehow, didn't make any close friends.

So I tried becoming a “regular” at some of the popular expat bars.
Plenty of expats at the bars who wanted to talk ... and talk ... and talk.
Each wanted to tell me his stories, but each just talked past my ear.
I was not able to have even one thoughtful discussion about expat life.

In recent years I tried some “Meetups”.
Those combined the worst aspects of the local forums and bars, with none of the positive.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

What to do?

Years ago – long before forums and Facebook -- I participated in three email lists that were highly valuable.
Every day I looked forward to any new posts.
While none of those lists are still active, I thought about the reasons they worked so well:
  • Tightly focused subject matter
  • Carefully selected participants (not open to the public)
That has become my strategy.

At first I thought a lot about rules for moderation, but eventually realized that with careful selection of participants, almost no moderation will be required.
Maybe a gentle reminder to avoid name-calling (so popular these days), or to avoid obscenities if a “hot topic”, but, even that, rarely, if members are selected carefully.

I have also decided that there will be no lurkers.
Every member is expected to contribute something worthwhile on a regular basis.
If a member does not, then a gentle reminder, or two.
If still nothing, he is removed from the list, with no distracting and time-wasting discussion about it.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Getting Started:

To begin, I prepared a one page advertising PDF consisting only of pictures.
There's a reason for only pictures:
Everywhere in The Anglo-sphere today, there are certain prohibited topics.
I didn't want to mention them directly, so I let pictures do the talking.

Then I hired an “Internet guy” to handle marketing and promotion.
He knows more about social media than I will ever know or want to know.
I don't want to spend time in that maze, so I'm happy to pay him to do it.

But he is pushing me to let him create a web site and FaceBook page for this.
I want no web site whatsoever.
A private list is private.
Those interested can see the door, and the name on the door, but admittance is members only.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Who pays?

There is no cost to members.

The internet guy is a digital nomad who charges only few hundred dollars a month.
The email list app is US$ 2/month per user.
So who pays for it?
I do.
That simplifies everything.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Relationships with selected forums:

What is the relationship between an email list and public forums, such as Happier Abroad.

Forums are, as far as I can see, the very best source of “over the horizon radar” for discovering new ideas.
No matter what is happening anywhere, someone will likely post to a forum about that topic.
Indeed, this post is an example of that.
So a few selected forums (like this one), are like “intelligence agents” to tell me what is happening among expats anywhere, not just in my country.
An email list with only a handful of participants can never hope to have that kind of “reach”.

In addition, on forums, there are some posters with excellent ideas, but those posters prefer a vast audience for themselves, not to limit their benevolence to just a handful of readers.
Fine.
Their ideas are superb: worth reading and worth recommending to others.
On this forum there are dozens of posters like that, both present and past.
So I will encourage email list members to post links to good ideas on the forums they follow.

Some forums prohibit discussion of business topics.
Yet, businessmen generally have the best practical ideas and the most common sense.
I will encourage businessmen and retired businessmen to join my email list.
And they are welcome discuss their businesses in the context of expat topics.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Conclusion:

This is a start, a rough draft.
I welcome questions, comments, and critique about any aspect of this.
Either here on this forum, or in private messages.

And any other expats here, who are interested in doing something similar in their locations, I stand ready to offer help and encouragement based on my experience so far.
Perhaps I'll start an email list for email list owners in various countries – where we can help each other discuss marketing and member selection.
If I do start a list like that, I'll encourage my web guy to participate too, so others can learn from his experience of promoting my list.
And then I'll post about that to this forum, so other expats can find a way to make friends in their countries.
.
.
Member: Thailand Expats Email Discussion.
Membership inquiries welcome; send private message to me on this forum.

Mark_in_Bangkok
Freshman Poster
Posts: 36
Joined: December 3rd, 2017, 2:48 pm
Location: Bangkok

Re: Expats making expat friends by email.

Post by Mark_in_Bangkok » December 15th, 2017, 2:35 pm

.
Here is a follow-up report on this project.

So far, results are completely disappointing.
And I'm getting a view of my fellow expats which is highly discouraging.

Two weeks of intense posting to many different forums.
Only 10 replies.
Six are unsuitable: two wannabe expats still at home, one missionary, one couldn't express himself clearly ("yeah i'm like ya know what i mean bro ...), and similar.

Four inquiries seemed suitable in their first inquiry messages.
But three of those did not answer my reply email.

Only one of the 10 has sent any kind of follow up messages.
But then he disappeared -- nothing more.

I'm paying a digital nomad to do the postings.
He has used dozens of forums and web-boards which attract expats (as opposed to tourists and travelers).

Most inquiries came in from Reddit r/Thailand and r/Bangkok.
I've never used r/ so I went to see.
Average level of communication there is inane, so I'm surprised any interest in thoughtful email conversation.
One inquiry from Expats Exchange.
Others unknown.

In OP above I offered to help other expats in other countries to start their own lists.
Zero interest in that.

So, what conclusions can be drawn?
I would have thought many expats would welcome discussion in email.
But my approach is not finding them.
.
.
Member: Thailand Expats Email Discussion.
Membership inquiries welcome; send private message to me on this forum.

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