How networking differs across continents

We asked coaches from around the world what were the most important aspects to networking in their respective countries.

The art of small talk

“Networking is incredibly important and essential for career development in the US,” says Susanne Cordes-Hoelterhoff, a career coach. “Americans are quite good at small talk while also striving to build lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. Networking events are not simply social affairs. It helps to prepare. Research the focus of the group and who will be attending. Make a game plan, be clear on your strategy and have your elevator pitch ready. Follow-up is also critical via email or LinkedIn. Some even send thank you cards.”

Make intentions clear

“South Africans are very laid back by nature but if you’re using email or text messaging (even WhatsApp), you need to be very clear on who the connection is, or whether it is a ‘cold’ reach-out,” says career coach Gwynedd Theron. “Honesty and integrity are really important considerations, particularly at this time of economic challenge where some people resort to very creative ways of gaining access to personal information. So make your intentions clear. Even with LinkedIn, always write a personalised cover note and explain why you wish to connect. Otherwise, you will almost certainly be ignored.”

Don’t be too ‘selly’

According to the Nuremberg-based coach Florian Sussner, “When going to events in Germany, if you are too ‘selly’, it is not really considered very good behaviour. A good network is one where you try and stay in touch with people. But take it one step at a time. You might say, ‘Oh, I like what you do. I would love to chat with you more. Fancy a coffee someday next week?’ After an event people will look to connect through LinkedIn or Xing (a popular career-oriented networking platform in Germany).”

No one is irrelevant

“In Hong Kong or Shanghai, you should always have business/ personal cards (even if you do not have a job yet),” says career coach Marika Gillis. “When first meeting people, ask interesting questions and give them a chance to elaborate. Don’t try to make a sale the first time you meet them. Do it through a follow-up within a day (and keep your emails short). In general, focus on how you can help others instead of how they can help you. And never treat anyone as irrelevant, even if you cannot imagine how they can help you!”

Photo (left to right): Marika Gillis, Susanne Cordes-Hoelterhoff, Florian Sussner
Photo of Florian Sussner by Valerian Seethaler

This article was originally published for the thousands of expat partners that Global Connection supports around the globe. It is reproduced here in its original form.

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