Networking is a way of life for most Americans, it seems they start in Kindergarten and just keep on improving their networking skills.
For example, a friend of mine, Samba Murthy, gave some sage advice, urging Indian professionals to network among other groups. He said, “The biggest problem with Indians is they tend to focus just on Indians and it takes an enormous kind of effort to get over this cultural handicap. The tendency is to flock together. You have to get out of your comfort zone. Because life is not just spice and curry, you know. There are other things, so keep an open mind”
And he is right. Many of us go to events where we know people, where we have a good time renewing friendships [which is a good thing], but where we fail to make new, meaningful business connections. This is certainly the case for those among us, who are born overseas and enjoy meeting with fellow countrymen/women.
However, how many of you [if you are from another culture] have braved your way into a Chinese networking event, for example, in the Silicon Valley? Or gone to see what the Hispanics or French were doing? It is originally daunting, but it pays off greatly over the years if you invest time in getting to know different people from different cultures and business areas.
There are many international groups here in SV (and I am sure overseas as well – think of university alumni groups) who are very welcoming and enjoy having professionals from other cultures visit and join them in their activities and events.
- • Get on email lists of the organizations whose focus you are interested in.
- • Go regularly, every week, to meet people again and again. This is a good way to have significant contact, which will lead to something meaningful over time.
- • Force yourself to stay until you have made contact with at least 5 people that evening. This is hard initially, if you don’t know anyone, but will pay off greatly.
- • Volunteer to help with event organization and planning. Just because you are Indian or British, doesn’t mean you can’t volunteer at a German, French or Israeli organization. Help is accepted from everyone.
- • Enjoy it. Networking should be fun and can give you a good opportunity to do something that initially benefits others, but will ultimate come back to enrich your life.