Archive for August, 2012

Int’l business networking – part 3 of 3: Leveraging your networks, clubs and tech resources

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics – Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

We’ve learned a lot about moving and shaking outside of the US these past few weeks.  In our final installment, we’ve curated a cool collection of online and offline resources to make your overseas networking edge even sharper!  If you missed part one or two of this Hot Topic series, visit the links provided to catch up.

Int'l Networking Don’t discount your U.S. affiliations while networking in foreign cities…

Many groups and associations have international cache and draw expats, as well as natives, in international markets. “Some of the advice I have been given by seasoned travelers is the importance of Rotary clubs overseas,” says Max Stewart, president, World Affairs Council of Central Florida. “When you are a Rotarian in the US going to Europe and the Middle East, you see an increase in the importance of Rotary. These are some of the most prominent business owners in their area. Being a rotary member in your home town in the US automatically gets you entrance into a club when you visit overseas.” Stewart suggests that membership in ClubCorp has its privileges, too. “Most larger cities abroad have an affiliate or club office. You can join in on some of their events and networking times,” adds Stewart.

Mining your social networks…social media

According to business relationship and networking expert and author, Thom Singer, weeks before a trip you should canvas your social media contacts to see who you might be linked to in your destination city. “This might be people you are connected to on Twitter, LinkedIn or other online communities,” says Singer. “Beyond that, you should let your direct network know where you will be traveling and ask them if they have any interesting connections. If they do, get introduced in advance and set up a time to meet for lunch or drinks. Not only will you meet cool people, but the locals will usually take you to great restaurants or pubs you would not have found on your own.”

Put your Smartphone to good use…

With more than three-quarters of a million third-party apps available on the App Store, It’s no shock that there are a number of interesting networking app options available to business travelers looking to develop new business contacts outside of their home turf.  “There have been multiple entrants into this space, such as HereOnBiz, Sumazi, Meet & Seat, Intro, Unsocial and IntroBridge,” says Adam Lewis, CEO of Pythio, and founder of IntroBridge, a global business networking app, which was successfully sold in 2011.  “The market prefers traditional networking, and there’s still work to be done in perfecting an optimal paradigm for creating physical introductions in conjunction with privacy concerns.”  Lewis says, the biggest obstacle may be that business people who would use these apps just aren’t ready or willing to yet.

Are you ready and willing?  Check out these apps and web services, and let us know what you think:

“Did you know…Hotels best kept secrets?”

(tnooz)

bellmanTravel, tourism and hospitality industry news source, tnooz.com, reported on a recent viral Reddit discussion thread asking hotel staffers to reveal secrets.  Among the wild, interesting — and unconfirmed — top 10 juicy confessions:

  • In addition to your luggage, the Bellman can pull a lot of strings…if the tip’s good, the sky’s the limit on special requests
  • Mattress cover and sheets get washed — that’s it
  • The best way to cancel a hotel reservation without getting charged…Read more of The 10 juiciest confessions from hotel employees venting on Reddit

Int’l business networking – Part 2 of 3: Do’s and Don’t’s for European, Middle Eastern and Asian Networking

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics – Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Last week BNI® founder, Dr. Ivan Misner, kicked off our 3-part Hot Topic series on International Business Networking with practical advice for enhancing networking success abroad.  This week we’re going in deeper with Terri Morrison, the author of the bestselling “Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands” and her new book, Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands: Sales and Marketing. Terri shares excerpted Do’s and Don’t’s from her new release, which is jam packed with tried and true best practices for breaking through cultural roadblocks while working in foreign markets.

Terri Morrison

Terri Morrison

What are the most important Do’s and Don’t’s that corporate executives and entrepreneurs should heed while doing business in Europe, Middle East and Asia?

In Europe, do:

1) Use Conferences and University Connections:

A huge amount of business is closed at Conventions in Europe.  Germany alone hosts over 80 major trade fairs and exhibitions a year, and the networking potential is enormous.  In France, personal connections are paramount, and networks can be elite.  They are often based upon clubs that start in France’s top universities.  Know about the premier institutes of higher education in France – particularly ÉNA and École Polytechnique.

2) Be Exhaustively Prepared:

Selling in Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, etc. means providing data on every aspect of your product or service.  For you to be considered a business partner, you should not have to consult “corporate” for every answer.  If you look like a “naïf” you will not be taken seriously – a serious allegation in Northern Europe.

3) Use the Right Icebreakers:

There are many excellent icebreakers – and one generally safe topic is sports.  Learn about football (soccer), rugby, the Tour de France (bicycling), the French Open (tennis), Le Mans, etc.

In Europe, don’t:

1) Refuse an invitation to eat

And don’t initiate the business discussion during the meal – let your hosts bring it up (often at the end, over coffee).

2)Try to make jokes

Jokes do not translate well, and generally have no place in a business setting – particularly in Germany.

3) Be uninformed about international affairs.

Germans, the French, and many other cultures have thorough educations in history, philosophy, economics, etc.   Follow global headlines before your trips, and be ready when they offer opinions on U.S. politics – particularly during an election year!

In the Middle East, do:

1)     Understand how religion influences business throughout the Middle East. For example, in the UAE make sure your conference booth and any marketing collateral avoids content that is prohibited under sharia law.  This includes: Depicting a  man and woman alone in an ad, alcohol, and certain animals like pigs and dogs (or food items that contain pork or alcohol – like bacon, pepperoni, sausage, Dijon mustard, etc.)

2)     Remember that Arabic and Hebrew are read right–to–left, not left-to-right! Realize that the back of your annual report may be the front to your Middle Eastern contacts.

3)     Brush up on your luxury and performance car knowledge.  Dubai is the sports capital of the Middle East.


In the Middle East, don’t:

1)     Ask about the female members of a Muslim’s family. Male Arabs will not appreciate your interest in their wives or daughters.

2)     Expect to talk politics or religion. If you are unaware of the religious guidelines for each country before you get there – do not expect your contacts to educate you.

3)     Use Saudi Arabia’s flag in any promotional materials. Allah’s name is on the flag, and any commercial usage is considered desecration and is completely forbidden,

In Asia, do:

1)     Get the Greeting right!

Show respect by using your client’s title and last name.  (Remember, name order is reversed in many Asian languages.)  Don’t use a grip of steel when shaking hands, be ready to bow, and treat business cards respectfully – exchange them with two hands and keep them in a card holder.

2) Get comfortable with Silence.

Silence is far more common in Asia.  After each comment, let the conversation remain still for a bit.  There are multiple reasons for silence, and Asian execs often wait for a few seconds before they respond to a question.

3) Anticipate the “Long Game”

A very “short game” is played in the West.  Asians know this, and are willing to use it as a stratagem.  Negotiations may drag because they know that US execs are under extreme time constraints.

In Asia, don’t:

1) Reveal too much information.

US executives are known for giving away all sorts of information – from proprietary research to travel plans.  Learn to hold your cards close to the vest.

2) Forget to Apologize!

Apologies are common in much of Asia.  Learn to apologize, and don’t worry about appearing weak, or inviting lawsuits by accepting blame – even if it isn’t your fault.

3) Forget a Gift!

Many Asian contacts will have a gift for you, and you should be ready to reciprocate.  Bring small gifts at first – perhaps items from your city, or local sports team memorabilia, or golf club towels (if your contacts enjoy that sport!)

ExpertFlyer readers interested in Terri’s new book, “Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands: Sales & Marketing” receive a 20% discount: Kiss Bow Discount FLYER

Join us next week for the final installment of our Hot Topic series on International Business Networking.  We’re going to give you some excellent online and offline resources and creative tactics and tools for building your global rolodex.

 

International Business Networking – Part 1 of 3: Ivan Weighs in and More…

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Even Expert Flyers need some coaching when it comes to breaking through cultural barriers to business networking.  Corporate road warriors that can maximize their hectic international travel appointments by forging new professional relationships will yield invaluable opportunities in global territories and burgeoning markets around the world.

In this 3-part Hot Topic series on International Business Networking, we’ve mined top networkers, like Dr. Ivan Misner; business experts and technology providers specializing in connecting people on business.  We hope you enjoy the series.  Let us know what you think!

Ivan Misner

Ivan Misner, BNI Founder

We asked Dr. Ivan Misner, founder of BNI® (Business Network International) for his best advice for breaking international ice.

“Understanding cultural differences when doing business around the world is  becoming more important in a global society,” says Misner.

“Although many networking basics are universal, if you can factor in these and other cultural nuances, you will definitely gain a leg up when doing business in other countries. Your networking etiquette will be greatly appreciated as your business increasingly takes you into other countries, especially if you can learn a few words or commonly practiced traditions of that country.  Showing this kind of respect will go a long way in making a smoother connection with the local business people you are trying to work with.

The old saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans” is very appropriate.  However, one thing I’d strongly suggest–don’t just “do as the Romans,” take the time to actually “ask a few Romans.” I have had amazing suggestions from local business people I knew in other countries who thoroughly prepped me for the cultural differences in networking prior to my arrival in their country.  Their counseling and coaching made a huge difference in my ability to connect in an appropriate way throughout many of the countries I have visited,” adds Misner.

Come back next week when we look at some basic do’s and don’ts for networking in Europe, Asia and Middle East.

One-on-One with Jeff Greif, Editor-in-Chief, TravelSquire.com

In this month’s One-on-One blog, ExpertFlyer talks with Jeff Greif, Editor-in-Chief, TravelSquire.com, a digital magazine that provides a rich travel experience offering destination articles, columns, news, trip recommendations AND access to TravelSquire.com’s Travel Therapist – because we all need a little therapy before we embark on a new adventure.

Jeff Greif

Jeff Greif, Editor-in-Chief, TravelSquire

“One of the biggest trends we’re seeing in the consumer travel market is farm-to-table cuisine in local restaurants. It started as a small trend and is now expanding rapidly, not only across the country but across the world.”

— Jeff Greif, Editor-in-Chief, TravelSquire.com

TravelSquire.com prides itself on the unique content the magazine provides, particularly as it relates to destinations consumers may not have even considered.  With so much competition in the travel publishing arena, how do you keep things fresh?

There’s a lot of travel content out there, and what TravelSquire.com strives to do is find a new twist on a destination everybody already knows about – say for instance, a guide to little-known flea markets in London, where to go in Paris if you love chocolate, or a culinary tour of Calgary. We keep it fresh by always searching for the next travel trend and trying to stay ahead of the curve. We also look for places that may not be on your radar, because often they hold the most rewarding travel experiences.

Last month, we talked with Jonathan Spira of Frequent Business Traveler and he talked quite a bit about the trend in “Green” travel.  What are some of the key trends that you are observing in the consumer travel market?

One of the biggest trends we’re seeing in the consumer travel market is farm-to-table cuisine in local restaurants. It started as a small trend and is now expanding rapidly, not only across the country but across the world. Another one we’re seeing is with younger people is voluntourism – people who want to make a difference while seeing the world.

What exactly is the TravelSquire.com Travel Therapist?  What type of traveler opts in for this type of service and why?

The Travel Therapist is simple: it’s a way for consumers to talk to somebody who can either validate their choices or help them sift through all of the information on the Internet. The cost for the Travel Therapist allows our readers three hours of consultation to help them decide on their travel plans. It could be as macro as which destination they plan to visit, or as micro as which hotel is a good fit for them. They use the three hours of time on the couch for whatever therapy they need.

More than one-third of your subscribers report traveling to Europe in the past year.  Is this a unique trend among your readers? Where are they going and why?

TravelSquire.com readers go everywhere. They travel an average of 6 times per year: three for business and three for pleasure. For Americans, Europe is one of the most popular destinations, but we’re seeing more interest in Eastern Europe, as it has become more accessible over the past few years and is also more affordable, since most of these countries don’t use the Euro. But nothing commands travelers more than France and Italy, no matter the exchange rate.

TravelSquire.com has really done well to effectively leverage social media.  Your weekly tweet-ups called, #TRAVEX, are fun, interesting and command quite a following.  How are you engaging consumers through this tactic?

#TRAVEX is the only weekly tweet-up where people actually get to learn something besides tweeting their own opinions. When we started #TRAVEX, the key to it was the TEs (Traveler’s Education). #TRAVEX really took off about six months ago, when we started to change the format to include broader subjects, so whether you’ve been to a destination or not, you could still participate in the chat. #TRAVEX is fun because we ask questions like, “If you were going on a road trip, who would you take with you?” so it appeals not only to frequent travelers but also to fantasy travelers. It engages people and allows them to have cross-conversations, and that’s what brings everyone in.

Based on what your readers indicate, what are the top wants/needs of today’s travelers that aren’t being addressed?

The one thing we constantly hear is, “why do we have to pay for wi-fi in hotel rooms?” It’s an interesting trend. What we’ve noticed is that budget hotels give you free wi-fi, but the more upscale hotels have a very high daily rate. As a website very involved in social media, we absolutely agree. We’re sure that our readers would gladly give up other amenities to have Internet access. TravelSquire.com strives to be on top of news and trends in the travel industry, so there’s always something to be addressed.