Networking events for family members

The networking events for family members can contribute to both the researchers' and their families' better integration in the host country. Regular meet-ups can improve opportunities for networkingmaking in-person contactssharing knowledge, asking questions, and for receiving advice about the local environment.

In addition, regular meetings can strengthen the local community, also involving local players - HEI management, research, administrative staff, and local stakeholders among others.  



Improved quality of service Better communication and cooperation Social integration

Basic information
Categories Family Matters Networking Social Integration & Daily Life Promotion & Visibility
Mobility stages During mobility phase
Delivery schedule Continuous
Importance Nice to have
Scale of organizational change
Target groups PhD student/Early career researcher R2 - R4 researchers Internationals spouses/family members
Types of contracts of researchers Permanent employee Visiting scholar Employee in training (interns, research fellows, postdocs) Exchange student
Career stages of researchers Less than 6 months 6-12-months of experience 1-3-years of experience 3-10 years of experience 10-15 years of experience More than 15 years of experience
Lengths of stays of researchers 0-3 months 3-6 months 6-12 months More than 12 months
Practice setup

The programme of networking events can bring a lot of benefits and a good pay-off to the host organisation. 

  • First, the management board has to take a decision to host regular networking events for international researchers and their spouses. Consider it as a monthly or bi-monthly (or other frequency) informal event, dedicated to networking, socialising, and discussing problems and tips in an informal manner. Hosting regular networking events can be organised in different ways and it is possible to involve extra time, staff efforts, and even some catering budget. However, it is a good platform for cooperation and collaboration with other HEI institutions, local NGOs/charities, local ex-pat centres, EURAXESS centres or other local stakeholders.

  • The second step is to appoint a responsible person to be the "Networking host" in your organisation. It is very important to select or even hire somebody who has good communication skills, is friendly, and easily networking and who can design and develop the whole Networking programme for the organisation. The personality of this "Networking host" is more important than his/her current position, he or she can be from the HR/ IRO/ PR or even from the students association. This appointment should be considered a long-term engagement and role. He or she can be further assisted by other colleagues and volunteers (researchers, spouses, students) and local stakeholders in organising each of the events.

  • The third step is to make a formal set-up of the programme:

    • Prepare an easy-to-follow working file with guidelines and tips about organising networking events;

    • Prepare a yearly schedule of the events, considering specific topics for some of the events (i.e. Christmas, Easter, Spring/Fall Festivals), or Language-oriented events (French/ Spanish/German speaking night), or some regular meet-up events. 

    • Design the programme, and prepare a variety of suitable ice-breaking activities and conversation starters; keep in mind that not all spouses are bilingual.

    • Consider inviting guests from your organisation's management board, other researchers and their families, and other staff members. 

    • Consider opportunities to co-host some of the events with local stakeholders and use them as a tool to strengthen the local community.

    • Plan the approximate number of guests for each event in advance.

    • Design a feedback kit and plan a reporting schedule.

Cost of practice setup
Time required for practice setup
Personnel effort required for practice setup
Actors involved in practice setup
  • HR Department
  • IRO/welcome centre
  • PR department
  • Students association
  • Leisure activities centre (sport centre, museum, garden)
Partners involved in practice setup
  • EURAXESS centre
  • Other HEI/research organisation in city/region
  • Local NGOs or charities
  • Local expat centre
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice setup
  • Number of events organized annually

@All: Consider inviting other local organisations to be co-hosts for the events. This can additionally strengthen the local community and provide opportunities for better collaboration. 

Practice delivery

For each event, set aside about a month for planning and preparation. Think about possible co-hosts, help, and assistance and determine the place, the programme, the logistics (if there will be food/drinks), and the fee (if applicable). It is good for the first event to start in the office/ at the university premises and to focus on networking activities.

  • Planning

Announce the date and send out invitations three or two weeks in advance. In the invitation, specify clearly the date and time, the place (add a map, if necessary), the food/drinks (if any), the fee (if any). Highlight the event co-hosts, the goals and the networking activities, invited guests, and expected duration.

Consider the expected number of guests (f.ex. up to 10, up to 20, up to 50, or 100) and decide how to reach them. Together with the co-hosts, prepare the programme, consider including some ice-breaking activities, and appropriate get-to-know-each-other games. Taking into consideration that some spouses are not bilingual, possibly engage volunteers that can provide support/translation. Invite guests from your organisation's management board, staff members, researchers, and their spouses.

  • During the event

Welcome everybody in person and help them to introduce themselves and to network with the other guests. Make sure that the guests feel comfortable. It is expected that the spouses can be shy, so try to involve them in different activities, without being too "pushy". Prepare conversation starters, and plan how spouses can share some knowledge about their countries of origin, local customs, and specific terms. Ask some of the more experienced spouses to support the newcomers and to take part in organising the next events. Introduce the ice-breaking activities and get-to-know-each-other games. Make sure there are enough breaks and time for free conversations and sharing about encountered problems, questions, and answers. Take photos, but always ask permission to use them publicly.

  • After the event

Ask for feedback, comments, and suggestions and analyze the results. It is a good practice to make regular reporting to the management board about the statistics and the feedback received. Consider some changes and improvements for the next round of events.

Cost of practice delivery
Time required for practice delivery
Personnel effort required for practice delivery
Actors involved in practice delivery
  • HR Department
  • IRO/welcome centre
  • PR department
  • Leisure activities centre (sport centre, museum, garden)
Partners involved in practice delivery
  • EURAXESS centre
  • Other HEI/research organisation in city/region
  • Local NGOs or charities
  • Local expat centre
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice delivery
  • Number of events organized annually
  • Number of events participants annually

@all - other local organisations can be invited to co-host the events which can additionally strengthen the local community and provide opportunities for better collaboration. 

Examples of practice

Events for international researchers and their families

RWTH Aachen University regularly offers workshops, excursions, and events, including many in cooperation with other RWTH institutions. The catalogue of activities can be downloaded from download our current semester program here. Also, the university runs LinkedIn group for international researchers which can be used  for networking with other international researchers in Aachen.


EURAXESS Austria fosters networking between local and international PhD students, postdocs and researchers including their partners and families. The platform “EURAXESS Meeting Point VIENNA” offers different tools to support exchange and collaboration of researchers in the Vienna area in order to facilitate social integration of internationals.

EURAXESS Meeting Point Czech Republic

The “EURAXESS Meeting Point Czech Republic” is an information-sharing platform and offers different tools to support researchers, families and couples in order to facilitate social integration.