How To...Harness the Power of Social Networking
It's no secret that social networking has exploded: Over 90 million active users have flocked to Facebook while LinkedIn has garnered more than 30 million. And with good reason—social networking is an easy way to connect with friends and family. It is also a great way to expand and cultivate business relationships without leaving your office—an appealing thought for the chronically shy.
Are you thinking about hopping on the social networking bandwagon, but not sure where to begin? Follow these three steps to get started.
1] Decide: To determine which platform is right for you, it's essential to understand why you're social networking, says Jeffrey Brandt, chief information and knowledge officer at the law firm Crowell & Moring. Brandt has been social networking since 2005. Want to stay in touch with friends and family? If so, Facebook might be your best fit. If you're looking to build your professional network and cultivate business relationships, LinkedIn might better suit you. Beyond these mainstays, there is a world of professional sites out there from Advogato (a free community dedicated to open-source software development) to Ziggs (where you can market yourself online).
2] Build: Browse the profiles of friends or colleagues for ideas on building yours—and keep your audience in mind. "If in your Facebook network are nonbusiness friends and family, you can present yourself differently" than if they were coworkers, says Brandt. "The minute you have a business contact or two in [your network], then you don't want to mention that party where you got so drunk you couldn't see straight," he says.
3] Maintain Keep your profile simple and updated. "You wouldn't hand out an old business card, would you? You want the right name, the right title, the right company," Brandt says. "And just because you have access to 37 fonts doesn't mean using them all in the same document makes it better."
...Hold a Multicultural Business Meeting
Follow the Four R's: recognize, respect, reconcile and realize, says Professor Peter Woolliams, senior partner with THT Consulting and coauthor of Business Across Cultures. Recognize the differences in your attendees' cultures—some will have different perceptions of being on time while others will express points of view in a manner different from what you're used to. Respect these differences and reconcile them to make a cross-cultural connection. "Some people may be more individualistic while others are more team oriented," Woolliams says. "To reconcile this, for example, ask them how they would use individual talents to help a team."
...Choose a Restaurant for a Business Dinner
Consider who your guests are, says Lanie Denslow, author of World Wise: What to Know Before You Go, who focuses on cross cultural training. "If you're hosting the 75-year-old chairman, you want a restaurant with a laid-back atmosphere," she says, one that's quiet and comfortable. "If you're planning to celebrate a promotion, consider a restaurant that's more energetic." Poll your attendees, understand the food they like and dislike and try to choose a restaurant that you've frequented before. If you're traveling and planning a dinner for an offsite meeting, enlist the help of your hotel's concierge. "You may have chosen a great restaurant, but you also want to be sure it's in a good location," she says. And keep the price point in mind: "These days, businesses are trying to be a little more modest in entertaining," she says.