Immigrant Women Entrepreneurs Europe

We are Women Migrentrepreneurs. Finding our place, making our mark.

COOs Crossing Borders*: Multicultural Networking

Networking, as it is, is already hard. Networking with people of different cultural background can be trickier albeit interesting and fruitful. Here are  8 tips to make the most of it.

1) Acknowledge diversity

I think it is important that we realize that there is diversity in business relations, communication approaches, preferences, etiquette, etc. As we are used to a certain way of doing things, so are others. Being conscious of this allows us to prepare, act accordingly and to have and open mind. (See tip #2)

2)  Come with an open mind
Others may also be unsure or even unaware of diversity and may carry on as usual which in some cases can be different from how we do things. Having an open mind allows us to avoid any misunderstanding and most importantly, to go beyond these differences and maybe even find an interesting business link.

3)  Come prepared 

If you can research or brush up on cultural sensitivity, cross-cultural communication and etiquette, do so.  And if you’re the new one, take time to learn about local business culture. This reflects professionalism as well as projects a person who is well-educated, well-traveled and has a global perspective. But more importantly, it will facilitate fruitful networking with more people.

4) Be curious, be interested

This goes beyond cross-cultural networking and is the basis of any good networking. Be genuinely interested in people and in what they do and you’ll have people taking interest in you too. But having another layer to explore, such as cultural diversity, may offer an interesting topic, or better yet, a business opportunity.

5) Be yourself but maintain professionalism all the time.

Enough said.

6) Have a set of neutral questions and topics of discussion.

In most networking tips, you’ll find the suggestion to come ready with questions and points of discussion that will help you start or continue conversations. I concur. But in addition, going back to tip #1,  I suggest that we remain conscious of cultural diversity and gauge the sensitivity of questions and topics.  (i.e. Is the question too personal? Is this a controversial topic? )

7) Go beyond language

We are mostly judged by how well we talk in a certain language (unfortunately). But in an environment where not all are native speakers, doing so would just make us miss out on potential great links. Go beyond the language skills and learn more about what the person has to offer. (See tip #4) And do the other person and yourself a favor, speak simply and slowly. If you have something smart to say, your point remains smart  even if you use simple words.

8) Be sincere

Again, self-explanatory. Reaching out to the person in a sincere way goes beyond cultural diversity. It’s about a person reaching out to another person. Who can resist that?

If you have any tips to add, you’re most welcome to send them in through the comment box. And if you would like to meet and network with other women entrepreneurs in Europe, come and join us at the Speed Wall Post Networking event we’re hosting on March 19-21. RSVP by clicking on the Join button. Hope to see you there!

*Creators of Own Opportunities (COOs) Crossing Borders is a weekly blog that talks about business ideas (other than those under Cultural Capital); discusses topics that helps us create our opportunities as well as cross barriers as immigrant women entrepreneurs. There will also be features on immigrant women who are creating or have created their opportunities. (If you want to share your story, don’t be shy!! Send me a message now!)

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