Navigating The Room And The Road

Networking is a business practice that is known and used worldwide. If I had a dollar every time, someone said, “It’s not what you know, but who you know,” or “Add me on LinkedIn,” I probably wouldn’t be here, haha 🙂

To be transparent, the thought of networking being different cross-culturally never really dawned on me before this lecture. Whether it be a high or low context culture, I assumed that the method of practicing networking was similar across all cultures; you meet people and develop relationships to repeat the same for the following individual.

After attending Rob Cullen’s lecture, I learned that there are, in fact, some universal networking techniques. One technique that he mentioned, which I am actively working on, is listening more and talking less. When I’m in the mood to be an extrovert, I feel the pressure to carry on a conversation, but I’ve started to understand the power of listening to what others have to say before preparing my response. Another universal technique that I picked up was to “help and not sell.” Often, we think that networking opportunities are times for us to really ‘sell ourselves,” but Cullen said, ” the only thing that we should be selling is a cup of coffee.” I have found that offering my skills and time to someone has been more beneficial than reiterating my resume.

A slight difference that I picked up on between the US and Ireland regarding networking techniques was not to discuss your business with someone when meeting them. If someone has a company, they wear it on their sleeve in the states. They make a point to bring it up in conversation because every interaction can be viewed as new business. In Ireland, I can see how this approach to networking can be disingenuous and fruitless. I have heard from almost every site visit or quest speaker about the importance of building relationships in Irish culture. Evaluating this technique through a different cultural lens, I can see how taking the position of selling vs. building a relationship can come across as insincere.

One of my biggest takeaways from the networking lecture was to be aware of body language. Cullen did an in-class display of an open vs. closed stance and how that can negatively impact your perception of others. I began to reflect on the times when I would go to a networking session and feel excluded from others, and in hindsight, a lot of it had to do with the group being in a closed stance.

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