Expand your global network with these tips from Chi Chi Okezie
Cultivating a diverse network opens doors to international opportunities with introductions, leads and referrals. Establishing a diverse network allows for deeper relationships and fosters understanding. These types of benefits encourage empathy, self-awareness and additional soft skills for professional, social and business development.
How can professionals develop global networks and communities to take advantage of these opportunities? How can professionals utilize resources to sustain and grow these international connections? How can professionals be consistent and focused on diverse aspects of their in-person and online interactions?
LinkedIn is an optimal platform for fostering quality professional relations and the best place to start expanding your global network. LinkedIn has over 900 million users in 200 countries and regions worldwide with a robust search engine for discovering new connections, searching for overlapping networks and segmenting contacts. Use these tools to construct viable international networks.
But before you start implementing these strategies, ponder the following questions to create a path for your process:
- What are the important reasons for building a global network?
- What individuals or organizations should I build relationships with or connect with regularly?
- Are there international chapters/groups within the organizations in which I hold membership?
- Are there already diverse contacts in my existing networks who can support my efforts?
- Is my LinkedIn profile “global-friendly”?
- Did I familiarize myself with tools on LinkedIn for expanding my global contact list?
Chambers of Commerce and Bi-National Chambers of Commerce are other excellent starting points for building a global network. In turn, many of these organizations collaborate with similar international organizations for professional and social causes. It is a great way to explore their mission and how it aligns with your networking goals. Additionally, these organizations have international chapters which can be useful if you decide to travel abroad.
Create a calendar of events. Be strategic about how you will spend your time, money and energy. Ask around and search for virtual or in-person events hosted in or by international organizations.
If you can travel to other countries, make a list of goals for your outreach. Consider the questions below:
- Do I have access to current information about travel, any restrictions, etc. before planning my trip?
- Do I have access to resources for familiarizing myself with the customs, language, culture, etc. of the area before the trip?
- Is this trip strictly business or can it also be leisure?
- Who will I meet or connect with during this trip?
- Do I have a follow-up strategy for building relationships?
- What forms of technology can I leverage to stay connected after the trip?
- How often should I consider travelling to sustain my connections?
If travelling to another country or location is not feasible, the next best option is connecting online. Search for online international groups, communities and forums of like-minded individuals. Think about meeting times, different time zones, language, etc. for virtual live events and consider upgrading your device(s) to improve communication and connectivity.
Keep in mind the cultural customs and nuances associated with in-person and online global activities. Finally, leverage technology to stay connected and sustain your global community connections.