There are many facets to the countless cultures around the world, but how might this affect an individual when they are tackling the subject of networking in different countries and contexts?
We briefly touched upon this subject in “The Networking Journey” but unsurprisingly it wasn’t possible to cover everything there.
Below you can read more about Charlotte Junge's experiences regarding cultural differences and how to deal with them.
I have experienced that cultural differences has a big impact on how to network.
People from abroad coming to Denmark often has the impression that we are very open - but this is not the case! We do not just invite new colleagues home for dinner after a few weeks cooperation - actually we are very private about our spare time. My advice to expats in Denmark is to approach Danes, where they use their spare time - for example in sport clubs, social clubs, voluntary work etc. and/or suggest a coffee at a café. Expats should not be disappointed if they are not invited home, just try to make contact in other areas.
But if expats are looking for more professional related advice or input, they don't have to make friends first - they can easily ask for advice and knowledge from their Danish network during work hours - the Danish culture is actually very helpful as long as it's kept on a professional level.
When I started working in China, I quickly found out that the difference between success and failure was to be good at building network - or as they call it "guanxi".
Before one of my first business trips to China, I proudly presented my director for my schedule, which was filled with meetings - he replied by telling me to cancel at least two of the meetings each day. He said; "You must have time to meet/take a lunch or dinner with the people your contacts would like to present you to"!
The culture in China is that if you ask other people for network contacts, it's expected that you have the time to meet them soon - preferably the same day.
Another story from my 8 years in China is my "Food exhibition project". Here I was in charge of planning and handling a large scale exhibition of Danish Food in Shanghai. I used several month in Shanghai meeting with people from the food industry and people in their network and I also networked in order to connect with the official Shanghai. I invited the Mayor of Shanghai to write a foreword in our exhibition catalogue, which he considered as me/Denmark showing respect (which is extremely important in China) and together with the Danish Consulate I invited important Shanghai officials to the grand opening of the exhibition and to a VIP cocktail party on the first evening. I believe that this plus a lot other networking activities was the main reason that the exhibition became a success!
Working in the States I experienced that I especially should attend social events such as barbecues, beach volley on Sundays etc. - because if I got a more personal acquaintance with people, they where very helpful creating professional contacts for me..