Networking is an important component of doing business no matter where in the world you are. As an American business person working for a big company or a startup for yourself, you likely have to travel a lot for business. You also likely know the value of face to face meetings in the world of business. In a world where speed is the crux of everything we do, it’s natural to want to become more progressive and do away with in-person meetings in favor of emails or Skype sessions.
However, in our haste to get things done quickly, we are underestimating the power of human interaction and the importance of face-to-face communications, says Forbes. Whether you’re in Brazil or Shanghai on business or pleasure, here are a few tips to learn how to network effectively.
1. Make the Most Use Out of Your Contacts. If you have an old friend, family member or business associate currently living in Brazil or Shanghai, reach out. Ask them to show you around and introduce you to others with whom you may have a common interest. Utilize your contacts on social media as well for inspiration and advice. Making connections well before your departure can help you immensely before you even touch down at the airport.
2. Make Connections on Social Media. Part of this is building up your online presence and portfolio through professional sites like LinkedIn. Gather as many contacts as possible and let them know where you’re headed. You may find people in your circle that you never even knew lived abroad or had any connection with your line of business. It’s these unexpected connections that can help you out in a big way. As Dennis at Asia Internship Program points out in his post “An internship Abroad Makes You a Badass”, not only can internships be a great way to engage your current contacts, but it will also give you some great international contacts that could be extremely valuable in the years to come.
3. Learn the Local Language. Knowing Portuguese or Mandarin Chinese – or at least the basics – shows you’re serious about connecting with people in their homeland. It’s great as a business tool, but even more useful if you’ll be staying in those countries for more than just a quick corporate trip. Go beyond the language and make it a point to immerse yourself in the culture.
4. Get out There. Online connections are great but nothing beats leaving your comfort zone and getting out there to meet new people. Attend rallies, classes, university events, corporate luncheons, sporting events, conferences, and more. Do some volunteer work to truly understand the city in which you’re in and the needs of the people that live there. Head to the local coffee shop, go out for cocktails at Happy Hour…any way you can get out of your hotel room and into the social scene is great for networking. You won’t make new personal and business acquaintances sitting on the couch all night. You can connect with the local Chamber of Commerce branches in Shanghai and Brazil to check their local events listings and learn more about different networking events they’re hosting.
Immersion is such an important part of networking – particularly when it comes to learning the native language. That’s what makes BRIC Language Systems so great: you learn interactively through teaches based in China, Mexico and Brazil. Learn more about how you can embrace a new language to improve your networking skills.