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The art of networking and the impact of business culture

02/06/2017

This week the Cherish team attended an event, run by not for profit organisation Developher, which discussed the art of networking in business culture. It was held at the Instagramable offices of MOO and the team from Developher delivered a delightful breakfast session filled with technology industry professionals across a wide range of disciplines. The audience was all ears to hear Sophie Dermaux, Kata Blayer, Eniko Tarkanyszucs and Hannah Mirza discuss the networking do’s and don’ts, epic fails and why networking is so vital for success in business culture. Fueled with new learnings and ideas from the session, this got us thinking – what impact does business culture have on networking?

The World of Networking

The world is a small place if you take into account your friend from Paris on Facebook, LinkedIn connection from Turkey and that Insta-star you follow from LA. Look through anyone’s social media profile and you will see a global spread of contacts, but how does that impact networking?

For Brits, we tend to still retain an element of British reserve, holding back in certain networking situations. Hannah Mirza of the panel raised an example of attending an event in Tel Aviv. Whilst at the event she found some of the attendees straight talking, to the point and their follow-up post event in similar fashion. As Tel Aviv is a fast-growth, tech hub, Hannah pointed out that this behaviour was a natural approach for its industry and culture. Rather than be deterred by this approach, she suggested that she found the process refreshing.

Even small behaviour traits can be an easy way to either foster or harm potential relationship building opportunities. Take Japan for example, the way you share a business card (or receive for that matter) can make a major impact. How often do you take a moment to think how you receive business cards? Do you take it, take a look at the design/info, and then place it in a pocket for safe keeping? Japanese business culture traditionally suggests that glancing at, folding, or putting away a business card whilst still in conversation is considered bad form. Every element of body language, however small or slight it may seem, can play a major part in networking across cultures.

Developher

The panel at the DevelopHer breakfast morning on networking

The Size of Networking

In addition to geographical cultural nuances, company size has a part to play in networking. For example, if you are speaking with someone from a startup their approach to networking could be vastly different to a senior exec in an enterprise company.

Whilst everyone has their natural networking style, startup employees can often be found in ‘elevator pitch’ mode. By nature this is how they need to function, as they never know when they will meet their next investor or where their next interaction will take them. Whereas if it was an enterprise employee, there could be more requirement for you to kick-start the conversation. Adapting to the style of the person you are networking with – becoming a networking chameleon so to speak – is an advisable approach to take, whilst paying careful attention to your body language and behaviour.

Outside of all this, the key message from the panel was to get out there and network – whoever and wherever you may be! Too often we can hide away online, and there’s much more to be gained by having an engaging face-to-face conversation (especially if it involves great coffee).

By PR Consultant, Holly Forrest

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