Networking Amidst Cultural Differences

Photo Courtesy of Potowizard

Photo Courtesy of Potowizard

Understanding cultural differences when doing business around the world is  becoming more important in a global society.  Even within large countries like the United States, there are definitely differences from one region to another.  When you go beyond that and look at one country vs. another, the differences become even more impactful on business.

When we concentrate on similarities with each other in business, the differences aren’t that important.  Problems arise when the differences appear to be all there are.  When entrepreneurs focus on the perceived differences between each other in business, these differences can become stumbling blocks to developing a strong relationship, which is, after all, the ultimate goal of networking.  When you factor in differences in communication and behavioral styles it exacerbates the perceived differences.

Although many networking basics are universal, if you can factor in these and other cultural nuances you will definitely get a leg up when doing business in other countries.  Your networking etiquette will be greatly appreciated as your business increasingly takes you into other countries, especially if you can learn a few words or commonly practiced traditions of that country.  Showing this kind of respect will go a long way in making a smoother connection with the local business people you are trying to work with.

The old saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans” is very appropriate.  However, one thing I’d strongly suggest–don’t just “do as the Romans,” take the time to actually “ask a few Romans.”  I have had amazing suggestions from local business people I knew in other countries who thoroughly prepped me for the cultural differences in networking prior to my arrival in their country.  Their counseling and coaching made a huge difference in my ability to connect in an appropriate way throughout many of the countries I have visited.

If you have any useful tips or bits of advice for successfully networking in a certain country or region of the globe, please–by all means–share this information in the comments section.  You never know who you could be helping!

Top Etiquette Tips on Doing Business & Networking Globally

We’re constantly becoming more of a global community and we’re receiving more and more opportunities to network worldwide right alongside cultures which are very different from our own. This makes it very important to know what to do and what to say when it comes to respecting cultural norms, boundaries, and traditions–more importantly, we need to know what not to say and what not to do (trust me, by the personal stories you’ll hear in this video, you’ll realize that I learned this lesson the hard way).

At a recent 2015 Referral Institute® conference, I had the pleasure of speaking to my friend, referral marketing trainer Tiffanie Kellog, about cultural etiquette and why it’s so important to be aware of it.  I offer my top tips on doing business and networking globally and also reveal one of my favorite online educational resources which deals with this topic.

Do you have a story about an experience doing business and/or networking globally which stands out in your mind?  Please share it in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Welcome to International Networking Week® 2015!

This week marks the 9th annual celebration of International Networking Week® which is recognized each year by thousands of people around the world.

International Networking Week is about celebrating the key role that networking plays in the development and success of business around the world.  It is about creating an awareness relating to the process of networking.  Not just any kind of networking, but what I call “relationship networking”–an approach to doing business based on building long-term, successful, genuine relationships with people strategically through the networking process.

International Networking Week has been acknowledged by many governmental organizations (including a joint resolution of the California State Assembly and Senate) and is celebrated in many countries across the globe.  Start the new year out with more business by using this week to build your networking skills and expand the opportunities within your reach.  If you belong to any networking groups, be sure to tell them that this is International Networking Week (Feb 2-6).

Please feel free to share this video with others and show it at your networking meetings this week.

For more information and a list of worldwide events, please visit www.InternationalNetworkingWeek.com.

So what have you already done and/or what will you be doing to recognize International Networking Week?  Please share your plans in the comment forum below–thanks!

 

Jim Blasingame: ‘The Age of the Customer’

I have been good friends with small business expert Jim Blasingame for over ten years and I can fully attest to the fact that his knowledge of what it takes to achieve success in small business is unparalleled (but don’t take my word for it, check out his bio below*).  I am excited to announce that just a few weeks ago, he released a revolutionary new book that will change the way the we think about buying and selling.

This short video offers a quick overview of the premise of Jim’s newly released book, The Age of the Customer, which focuses on the momentous marketplace shift currently taking place that is affecting the way we all do business.  Watch the video now to get a glimpse of what this significant marketplace shift means and to gain an awareness of the greatest danger it presents to business owners across the globe.

Knowledge is power and preparation is one of the greatest keys to success in business; The Age of the Customer arms you with the knowledge you need to prepare your business for lasting success.  CLICK HERE FOR A FREE SAMPLE OF THE BOOK.

After watching the video, reading through the free book sample, or reading the entire book, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Jim’s ‘Age of the Customer’ concept–please leave your feedback in the comment forum below. Thanks!

  * Jim Blasingame is one of the world’s foremost experts on small business and entrepreneurship, and was ranked as the #1 small business expert in the world by Google.  President and founder of Small Business Network, Inc., Jim is the creator and award-winning host of The Small Business Advocate® Show, nationally syndicated since 1997.  As a high-energy keynote speaker, Jim talks to small business audiences about how to compete in the 21st century global marketplace, and he talks with large companies about how to speak small business as a second language.  A syndicated columnist and the author of three books, including Small Business Is Like a Bunch of Bananas and Three Minutes to Success, which have sold almost 100,000 copies combined; his third book, The Age of the CustomerTM launched on January 27, 2014.

 

Get Ready for International Networking Week 2013!

International Networking Week®  2013 is almost here and with it comes tremendous opportunity for  businesspeople across the globe to grow business through the development  of powerful new connections!

International Networking Week®  is an initiative of BNI® and its focus is to celebrate the key role that networking plays in the  development and successs of business around the world.  It’s about  creating an awareness of the process of networking.  Not just any kind  of networking, but “relationship networking”–an approach to doing  business based on building long-term, successful relationships with  people through the networking process.

Over the past several years, International Networking Week has been  gaining momentum worldwide and for the past few years, the Week has been recognized by  tens of thousands of people around the world and acknowledged by many  governmental agencies and high profile organizations.

The number of people participating in this year’s celebration of International Networking Week®, through hundreds of large events and thousands of smaller events, is expected to be even greater than it was in 2012.

You can join in the celebration of the Week by:

  • Watching the 2013 International Networking Week Video by CLICKING HERE. Please feel free to share the link with everyone in your network and post it on any websites you may have.
  • Visiting www.InternationalNetworkingWeek.com for more information and a list of worldwide events.
  • Participating in this year’s recommended special International Networking Week networking exercise by bringing an individual who has been a significant influence on your business/life to the  networking meeting or event you’ll be attending during International  Networking Week.  For full details, please click on the link below.

SPECIAL NETWORKING EXERCISE–INTERNATIONAL NETWORKING WEEK 2013

How are you planning on celebrating International Networking Week?  I’d love to hear your ideas on additional ways to celebrate this year so please leave your thoughts in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Networking in Thailand, Malaysia, or Japan?–Dos and Don’ts to Note

Understanding cultural differences when doing business and networking around the world is  becoming increasingly important in this global society (click here for an explanation).

On a related note, I posted a blog entry a few weeks ago outlining valuable tips from top networking experts in China and Vietnam which will help people traveling to those countries to position themselves for the most successful outcome when networking and doing business there.  I promised that I would revisit the topic of what to do when preparing to network in Asia by posting another blog specifically offering advice on networking in Thailand, Malaysia, and Japan–today I am following through with that promise.

Thai and Malaysian business networking expert Avryl Au (pictured above) has a number of important recommendations for networking and conducting business in Thailand and Malaysia:

  • When doing business in Thailand, they do not shake hands.  Instead, they put their hands together (palm to palm) and place them just in front of their face, close their mouth, and bow slightly.  It is acceptable for foreigners to do the same.
  • In Malaysia, Au says that the handshake is the official way to greet, but after that you put your right hand on your heart.  Westerners generally have a firm handshake.  However, in Malaysia the handshake is generally softer.  This is not a sign of weakness.  It is simply the cultural norm.  Again, foreigners may do the same.

Asato Ohno (pictured below), one of Japan’s leading experts on networking says, “One big difference between the Japanese culture and Western business culture is an activity the Japanese call ‘nominication,’ which means drinking communication.”  According to Ohno, “In order to build any kind of meaningful business relationship with your associates, you must go out for dinner and drinks.”

While this concept is not foreign in Western business culture, it is something that is much, much more important in Japan.  Ohno says, “People believe they can build deeper relationships with others more quickly by drinking together.  It is almost like having casual one-to-one meetings regularly.  Therefore, it is important for any business person to prepare and to plan for ‘nominication’ sessions in order to be successful.”

Finally, exchanging business cards is an essential part of most cultures.  In most Asian countries, after a person has introduced him or herself and bowed, the business card ceremony begins.  In Japan, this is called meishi The card is presented to the other person with the front side facing upwards toward the recipient.  Offering the card with both hands holding the top corners of the card demonstrates respect to the other person.

The business card is admired much more in Asian culture than it is to us here in Western society.  It is truly an extension of the individual and should always be treated with respect.  Things like tucking it into a pocket after receiving it, writing on it, bending or folding it in any way, or even looking at it again after you have first accepted it and looked at it are not considered polite and can insult your fellow Asian networker.

So, with that last recommendation, I think I’ll grab some business cards, set a reservation at a local restaurant, contact some business associates, and start a little nominication of my own. Cheers.

Preparing to Network in Asia?–Consider These Valuable Tips

Last week I posted a blog about how cultural differences play into global networking and how understanding those differences becomes very important as we do business around the world.

On a related note, I’d like to offer some valuable tips I’ve picked up from a handful of networking experts in Asian countries–today I’ll focus on China and Vietnam and in the coming weeks, I’ll revisit this topic and provide the additional advice which comes from experts in Malaysia and Japan.

One of China’s leading experts on networking, Jihong Hall (pictured with me below), says that “face is everything to the Chinese.”  When used in a business context, face is not something you wash or shave but is something that is granted or lost.  In China the word face is an idiom for dignity, prestige, honor, respect, and status.  According to Hall, Westerners often make jokes at their own expense or at other people’s expense.  They have a knack for laughing at themselves.  However, she strongly recommends that you do not do this with the Chinese until you know them very, very well.  If you lose their face you will lose their business.

She has three additional recommendations when working with the Chinese:

  • When negotiating, always keep plenty in reserve.  A deal must be a compromise in which you have given enough ground so that their face is satisfied.
  • Numbers are very important to the Chinese.  For example, if your company was formed in 1944 it is best not to mention it because that means “death, death” in Chinese culture.  Even prices and fees charged are guided by the right numbers.
  • How you look is VERY important.  Dress well.  Smart, casual dress is fine; however, wear stylish clothes.

Vietnamese business networking expert Ho Quang Minh (pictured above) also recommends that you look formal when doing business in Asian countries.  He says:

  •  Westerners should be aware that some Asian businesspeople may talk less because they do not feel comfortable speaking English.  Don’t assume that they are not highly successful or that they are not driven business professionals simply because they come across as quiet or reserved.
  • Discuss business over a meal.  Do not go straight to the point at the first meeting.

What do you think of this advice–do you find it helpful?  If you are a networker in Asia or commonly network in Asian countries, what has your experience been?  Do you have any insights to share?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments section.

 

 

How Do Cultural Differences Play into Global Networking?

Understanding cultural differences when doing business around the world is  becoming more important in a global society.  Even within large countries like the United States, there are definitely differences from one region to another.  When you go beyond that and look at one country vs. another, the differences become even more impactful on business.

When we concentrate on similarities with each other in business, the differences aren’t that important.  Problems arise when the differences appear to be all there are.  When entrepreneurs focus on the perceived differences between each other in business, these differences can become stumbling blocks to developing a strong relationship, which is, after all, the ultimate goal of networking.  When you factor in differences in communication and behavioral styles it exacerbates the perceived differences.

Although many networking basics are universal, if you can factor in these and other cultural nuances you will definitely get a leg up when doing business in other countries.  Your networking etiquette will be greatly appreciated as your business increasingly takes you into other countries, especially if you can learn a few words or commonly practiced traditions of that country.  Showing this kind of respect will go a long way in making a smoother connection with the local business people you are trying to work with.

The old saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans” is very appropriate.  However, one thing I’d strongly suggest–don’t just “do as the Romans,” take the time to actually “ask a few Romans.”  I have had amazing suggestions from local business people I knew in other countries who thoroughly prepped me for the cultural differences in networking prior to my arrival in their country.  Their counseling and coaching made a huge difference in my ability to connect in an appropriate way throughout many of the countries I have visited.

Be sure to come back next week where I’ll be sharing some valuable tips I’ve picked up about doing business and networking within the Asian market.  In the meantime, if you have any useful tips or bits of advice for successfully networking in a certain country or region of the globe, please–by all means–share this information in the comments section.  You never know who you could be helping!

 

International Networking Week® 2012–New Video

 

 

The new video for International Networking Week 2012 has just been released!

This short, 9-minute video, sponsored by Referral Institute (www.ReferralInstitute.com) and Entrepreneur Press (www.Entrepreneur.com), explains how the week of February 6th-10th, 2012 will bring about great opportunities for businesspeople around the world and increase worldwide awareness about the powerful benefits of business networking.

2012 will mark the 6th annual celebration of International Networking Week which is now recognized by many countries across the globe, with thousands of events being held during the celebratory Week.  One of the main goals of the Week is to help businesspeople everywhere build their networking skills and expand the opportunities within their reach and, in the video, my Business Networking and Sex co-authors and I offer some very valuable pointers on where to focus your efforts in order to make the most of International Networking Week.

Don’t wait until the last minute to join in the celebration and start the year off as a better networker–watch the video now, find an event in your area, and come back and let me know what you’ll be doing to recognize International Networking Week.

For additional Information, please visit www.International Networking Week.com.

Double Dip Recession?

The third quarter survey of the BNI Business Index was not very promising for business around the world.  The survey included responses from over 1,200 business people representing every populated continent in the world.

The number of people who said that business was growing or growing substantially in the third quarter of 2011 dropped to 66.9% compared to 70.4% in the second quarter of 2011.  More notably, the number of people who said that business was declining or declining substantially almost doubled from 5.4% in the second quarter to 9.6% in the third quarter of 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
In addition, the number of people who said they would or possibly would be hiring in the next few months dropped from 53.9% in the second quarter to a low of 45.9% in the third quarter of 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almost 300 respondents left open ended comments on the survey.  There were at least three common themes throughout the open ended responses: problems related to government regulations, developing new services to offer, and increased networking efforts.

Government Regulation

Once again, government regulation came under fire in many of the open ended comments that business people shared in the survey.  There was a fair amount of frustration about “anti-business policies having a very negative effect” on the business environment.

One respondent said that his business was “down 80%” because of government “bungled schemes.”  Another response said, “Today’s business has been hurt from the government’s restrictions on business in this country.”

This kind of frustration was echoed by many respondents throughout the survey.

New Services

On a positive note, people who seemed to be doing better often discussed new services or target markets that they were developing.  One respondent stated, “We re-evaluated our strengths, costs, and profit.  We realigned our costs and added new services to our offering.”

Another person said they were “offering new service features and distinctly communicating our target market to our referral partners.  We’ve had to adjust to the market.  It’s not ‘business as usual’ anymore.”

One respondent stated, “I’ve had to change my business strategies due to the economy.  I have added more services at more price options that will appeal to a broader scope of people.”

Another person summed up this theme well by saying, “We have grown because we are embracing change.”

Networking

Networking and referral marketing strategies again came up as positive ways to deal with the economy.  One person stated, “Business is picking up due to my learning more and more about developing word of mouth and other referrals.”

One respondent combined the “new services” and “networking” themes by saying that he was doing well due to “a combination of new innovations on my products and increasing my networking relationships.”  He expressed that these things “contributed greatly to this year’s business.”

Other people made statements such as:

  • “Networking and sponsorship of corporate events is the key to growth at the moment.”
  • “My referral base is responsible for the growth of my business during the economic downturn.”
  • “We are working hard at building a strong network of positive people.”

Summary

One respondent in particular summed up the general consensus of many of the respondents very well when she said, “There is less confidence in the marketplace now than there was during this same time last year.”

Another survey respondent made what could be considered a somewhat prophetic statement—“The financial industry is out of control.  The protesters have the right idea!”

Hmmm . . . Wasn’t it Thomas Jefferson who once said, “Every generation needs a new revolution”?  It might be time for businesses to pull out some poster boards and markers.

To take the next BNI Business Index survey, click here.  I’d love to have your thoughts about how business is doing.

Can Cultural Differences be Affecting Your Networking Success?

 

A few weeks ago, I spoke at an event in Israel and while I was there, I got to talking to my good friend Sam Schwartz about the very different networking styles and tendencies which occur from country to country.

It is very important to consider and respect cultural differences when networking and doing business in different countries across the globe and, in this short video, Sam and I discuss why it is important and how you can prepare yourself in order to achieve great networking results no matter where in the world you may be.

After watching the video, please share your own stories in the comments section about the differences in business and networking styles and tendencies you’ve observed when networking in various countries around the world.  Also, be sure to visit the following website which is a fantastic educational resource in regard to cultural differences: www.ExecutivePlanet.com.

BNI Business Index 2nd Quarter Findings–Leaner and Meaner!

The BNI Business Index is a website that was created to consistently gauge the ever-changing economic state of business based on quarterly global survey results of retailers, service companies, and manufacturing companies all around the world.


The statistics gathered from the survey results are intended to keep small business owners, entrepreneurs, and companies, as well as the media and the general public, educated and informed as to the changing state of the global business economy and the current business trends that become apparent over time.

The findings for the 2011 2nd Quarter BNI Business Index are in and they continue to look promising. Over 1,700 people responded to this survey and for the third quarter in a row, we see a rise in the index relating to how business is doing today compared to a year ago. According to the survey, 70.4% of the respondents believe that business is growing (58.1%) or growing substantially (12.3%) compared to this time last year. Only 5.4% felt that business was declining (4.6%) or declining substantially (.8%) compared to this time last year.

This quarter there were four themes that seemed prevalent:

– Being Leaner & Meaner
– Networking
– Having a New Focus
– Government Regulations

One survey respondent best summed up the “leaner and meaner” theme by stating that his business was  becoming “leaner, keener, and meaner!”  Another person stated that they had “adapted to the business environment and things have ‘stabilized’ as a result.”

Get the full 2011 2nd Quarter BNIBusinessIndex.com Survey Report by CLICKING HERE.

TAKE THE CURRENT BNIBusinessIndex.com Survey by CLICKING HERE NOW and GET A FREE 6 MONTH SUBSCRIPTION TO NetworkingNow.com!!

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