This article conceptualizes contemporary mass emigration of skilled youth from post-transitional societies such as Serbia in the context of globalization and transnationalism. Today, developed and knowledge-based economies are searching for young, highly educated professionals (IT professionals, scientists, researchers, medical staff, etc). Massive mobility has been motivated by better work prospects and life choices, especially in nations undergoing large social changes, i.e. in the process of their insertion into the world’s capitalist system. However, new theoretical perspectives and corresponding policy responses might be helpful in addressing this phenomenon not only as a loss for sending countries but also as a potential gain. Skilled youth migration might be transformed into ‘brain gain’ and ‘brain circulation’ taking into account a wider migration–development nexus. This article discusses two possible options in the context of a network society: transnational entrepreneurship and diaspora. These might prove to be powerful incentives for modernizing local economies, alleviating poverty and reducing unemployment. Regrettably, policy makers in Serbia, as well others from the region, are neither fully aware, nor engaged in potential utilization of these resources.