Networking groups in Tokyo

Upgrade your connections for 2010

Networking groups in Tokyo

Courtesy of Ian Lynam and Artalking

The economic slump of 2009 might have hit Tokyo hard, but the year is almost at an end and it’s the perfect time to make a move towards a career upgrade. Jobs are not as thick on the ground as they used to be; instead of focusing on the actual job hunt networking may well be 2010’s most proactive way to keep your upwardly mobile professional momentum going.

Social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and mixi have become the default means for many, and they’re a great way to stay up to date, but don’t get stuck in front of a monitor. Move beyond online social networking sites and work the room yourself instead. A polished personality and sparkling people skills are crucial assets, especially when swimming in as big a pond as Tokyo. Get yourself out there, and leave the log-ins for after your meeting, when you follow-up with a thank-you email.

Whether you’re new to Tokyo or between careers, chances are you have a story to tell and a destination in mind. Being socially savvy is necessary for establishing the network of contacts and sources that will help you get there in 2010. Now is the time to start taking advantage of hidden opportunities and meeting the people who can point you in the right direction.

Tokyo’s Japanese and international communities are unique markets to explore as they often present unusual and uncommon opportunities. Networking in Tokyo will allow you to focus on commonalities, showcase your talents and brainstorm with individuals seeking to share and develop ideas. Whether you aspire to launch a business, boost passive income or discuss architecture, there’s a niche where you can meet and socialise with people who will advise, encourage and compel you to move forward and implement your ideas.

To kick-start your year, stop by a meeting of one the groups on our list and network your way to your next step.

International Breakfast Meeting (IbM) Tokyo

Forget the happy hour cocktails and take advantage of the relatively quiet morning hours network over coffee for an energetic start to your workday with a diverse group of professionals. Founder Jun ‘Tak’ Ito was a ‘typical Japanese businessman who devoted his life to his career’ before being inspired by Robert Kioysaki’s ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ books. Mr Ito’s mission for the group is to ‘connect Japanese and non-Japanese and to inspire them to have synergy for each other.’ On a recent Thursday morning, a group including a macrobiotic chef, entrepreneur, real estate developer, accountant and IT specialist made for a meeting so eclectic it was hard for us to get up the nerve to leave the café for the cubicle. The group usually meets in cafés close to central stations such as Tokyo, Shinagawa and Ikebukuro, which places it on the way to work for those with regular office schedules. Participation is open to both English and Japanese speakers, and fees are limited to the price of breakfast or coffee at the venue. Venues and dates vary, so check the networking page to find the location of the next meeting.

Time: 7:30-8:30AM
Networking page:

Tokyo Black Professionals (TBP)

First Fridays, the first Friday of every month, is when Black lawyers, executives, English teachers, entertainers, consultants, salarymen (and women), tourists as well as government officials from North America, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean gather with their Japanese, white and multi-cultural counterparts to unwind, catch up and talk shop over food and drinks at a variety of venues in central Tokyo. Henry Moreland Seals, the group’s organizer and Harvard grad, has been in Tokyo since 1998 and has worked extensively in the international business sector. Seals is author of the book, ‘Making it in Japan’, written for foreigners working in the corporate sector. Seals’ goal is to ‘provide a forum for Black professionals, students or their friends and associates meet one another, discuss common issues and provide mutual support.’ He continues, ‘we want to be an accessible resource for people who want to learn more about Black issues or get involved in our community.’ Entrepreneur Night is a popular event where start-ups give presentations on their ventures and get constructive feedback on refining their blueprints. Participation in English is preferred, and most attendees speak Japanese at a conversational level. Fees are limited to the price of drinks at the venue. Times and venues vary so it’s best to check the website.

Date: first Fri of every month

People for Social Change (PSC)

Being a whistle blower isn’t a prerequisite, but if you’re interested in corporate social responsibility (CSR) or local and international issues, People for Social Change is the go-to source for giving back and getting involved. Over 300 people from more than 30 countries have participated in panel discussions with NGO speakers, fundraising events for local groups and non-profit NGO skills development workshops. Tokyo-based non-profit NGO consultant Sarajean Rossitto facilitates workshops, seminars and projects aimed at developing skills, organizational capacity understanding of global issues and effective partnerships. PSC links non-Japanese to the Japanese non-profit sector. 2009 highlights included money raised for a Palestinian youth food program and a health program in Cambodia. English and Japanese are both spoken, and best of all it’s free. Venues, dates and times for events vary so please inquire at the website.


Media Tectonics

With the threat of newspapers becoming obsolete and over 15,000 journalists laid off since 2008 in the US alone, wordsmiths are increasingly migrating online.

If you need tactics for standing out in the new landscape, Cindy Mullins and Doug Jackson’s soon-to-be-launched Media Tectonics— workshops and seminars on publishing, social media and online technologies, could very well reinforce your creative artillery. Tectonics is from the Greek word ‘to build’, and Media Tectonics aims to help its participants build both a successful career and multiple sources of income with the written word. Presentations on using Facebook, Twitter and social media to drive publishing projects and writing a ‘killer book proposal to hook agents and publishers’ will be attracting the notice of prominent podcasters, academics, award-winning screenwriters and many established, creative types in Tokyo. Seminars, workshops and materials are in English, but Media Tectonics is looking for sponsors to translate and dub interviews into Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and other languages. Events will be held in Minami Aoyama and at the International House in Roppongi; check the group website for more details and the launch event.

Time: 6:30pm-9pm
Admission: ¥2,000-¥4,000
Networking page:


For an evening dissecting themes based around contemporary aesthetics, pencil Artalking into your calendar. Artalking is an art and culinary experience that combines a light lecture on a monthly art theme and offers a creative dinner especially conceived around that theme. Loredana di Procia e Brugnera and Julia Barnes host this informative and intimate salon where art lovers gather for a sensory experience that engages all five senses. This year’s events included talks on the world and future of young Japanese artists in a global context, as well as a screening of vintage footage of Keith Haring in Tokyo in the 80s, courtesy of the archives of the Watari-um Museum of Contemporary Art. If you’re too busy for Art Basel in Miami of Europe, Artalking aims to stimulate your creative inclinations right here in Tokyo. Make sure to get there early to pick up the limited edition ‘zines by the speaker of the month. Venues change every month and events and are held in English.

Time: 7:30/8:00pm-10/11pm
Fees: ¥5,000 (including dinner and drinks) Tickets can be purchased online or by contacting
Networking page: Twitter

Tokyo Writers’ Salon (TWS)

Lauren Shannon is the mastermind behind this causal yet constructive atelier where writers (and would-be writers) meet to workshop poetry, fiction and non-fiction, review work and trade literary tips. If you are thinking of publishing a piece for a magazine or preparing a manuscript the Serious Saturday Critique sessions will help you to finesse your voice and eliminate run-on sentences or dangling modifiers. Event dates, times, and venues vary; inquire on the group networking page.

Networking page: Meetup

Foreign Executive Women (FEW)

This professional and social networking for empowering women was founded in 1981. Today the group has over 200 members representing a variety of industries including law, entertainment, finance and the arts. Visit them online for career tips, boosting your resume, or seasonal events. FEW is also open to English-speaking Japanese nationals. Few hosts various career seminars, regular meetings, and special events on different dates, times and at various venues throughout the year.


Mobile Monday (MoMo) Tokyo

Originating in Helsinki Finland in 2000, and launched in Tokyo September 2004, MoMo Tokyo hosts events that routinely attract between 100 and 200 participants working within the wireless industry. MoMo fosters cross-border business opportunities and networking events showcases demo products, information sharing and global trends. Events, meetings, times, dates and venues vary.


by Damion Mannings
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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