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!

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!

 

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