Ten professional networking principles
Keep the Swiss etiquette
Keep the Swiss etiquette

Building a long-term professional relationship requires time and trust. We often do not have time or we perceive time as lacking. We also might think of ourselves as trustworthy but we do not really trust people with an open heart as we might believe. I have learnt over the last few years as a professional that we all have a „trust account“. We grant another person trust when they have „earned“ our trust. It is similar to a bank. Once they have made a „withdrawal“ or asked us for an overdraft of favors we lower our trust in them or we even close the account. We also need to understand that matters of trust and relationships are culturally different so my bias on this topic is based on a German or Swiss-German culture.

In order to network effectively I recently came up with these ten professional networking principles. I would like to share them with you as I believe this could be helpful. You might want to develop your own principles accordingly.

No. 1: Define your networking purpose.

You should think about and write down what you are networking for. I would  define three goals such as „Creating a sustainable fan-base for my products and services.“ Or „Helping my clients to build better relationships in Switzerland in a shorter time frame.“ Or „Supporting young people in developing countries.“

No. 2: Build up your trust account

Before you ask someone in your network for a favor build up  your „trust account“ by helping them with a real need they have. I often read that you should send people articles or topics they could be interested in. It would be even better to find out a topic they struggle with and help them organize it.

No. 3:  Be genuine on LinkedIn / Xing

When you build up your network on LinkedIn (or Xing) you need to ensure that the other person either really knows you in person or online or has a keen interest in being connected to you. I sometimes have contact requests that I simply have to deny because I do not know the person and they do not tell my why they would like to be connected with me.

No. 4: Protect your network and their personal data.

This has become an issue over the last years. When you sign up for certain network and on certain platforms it easily happens that your contacts get spammed with emails not related to your networking purpose. Try to cut out people and platforms, which do not treat your data safely. If you share anyone’s email ID ask them for approval before you do so.

No. 5: Work on your attitude towards altruism

Networking is first of all about helping one another. If you do not intend to genuinely help other people, please do not call it „networking“. Be honest and tell yourself that you are selling through using professional relationships.

No. 6 Build your subscriber lists with voluntary members

If you are building your subscriber list it is best to have your clients and fans subscribe without pressure. This is not easy as there is a vast selection of blogs and other material that wants to be read. I find it ok if I am asked to join a Facebook fan page (and usually I like my friends pages without even looking at them). I also think it is acceptable to repeatedly invite people to subscribe to newsletters and blog posts. I do not think that you should „force“ people to subscribe or trick them into a subscription when they order one of your products. In the long run they will just ignore your emails or filter them out. Or like I just did use unroll.me to get rid of all the newsletters and updates you never read anyway.

No. 7 Follow your followers on Twitter

If you are on Twitter you should follow your followers back unless you are Kim Kardashian or Shah Rukh Khan. Stars have fans and followers. People like you and me use Twitter to network with a larger audience and globally around topics of interests such as #GlobalMobility. Define your hashtags, mention them in your bio and give people a reason to follow you.

No. 8 The best conversations are face-to-face (F2F) and 1:1

It might sound old fashioned and I really am a big fan of Skype, video-conferencing, telephone conferences etc. for work but in order to network effectively my advice is that you meet in person at least once a year.  Psychologically speaking, I believe you will only be on top of a list in a contact’s head when they see your face once in a while. In 1:1 conversations you also have a chance to talk about personal matters better than over email or chat.

No. 9 It is legitimate to ask more senior people for lunch

We sometimes struggle with asking a more senior person for lunch or coffee but it is absolutely legitimate. I also sometimes do not know how men take it if I ask them for a lunch as a woman. In these cases it might be best to name a topic you wish to go through. General rule: When you invite for lunch you pay. (Sometimes I get invited but I usually accept an invite only if I feel I have enough balance in my trust account).

No.10 Define your boundaries

If you would like to network like a Pro you should not have to apologize if you want to connect with someone. This probably means that the person is not right for your network. If making appointments becomes a hassle then it is a bit like dating. You might seem too desperate to achieve a target. I’d rather not meet then and wait until the person comes back to me with an offer.

 

Speaking to expats – Ten secrets GM Professionals wish they could tell you.
working together takes time...
working together takes time…

Global Mobility (GM) Professionals cannot always speak their mind. Here are a few secrets we wish we could tell you sometimes**…

1) “We are sure you can live in the same lifestyle as at home.” (But we have never lived in the country ourselves).

2) „Our relocation service is very reliable.“ (The fact that your furniture is late or drowned in the ocean is just an exception.)

3) „We have all your insurance needs covered.“ (But we never had a really disastrous situation that we needed to discuss with our insurer).

4) „Your spouse will eventually get used to the idea of living in the host country.“ (Or you will get divorced within the time frame of your assignment.)

5) „We have heard from other expats that they really liked the location.“ (They got married, resigned from our company and stayed their for good.)

6) „We know the market in the host location.“ (and that you will talk to all the other expats about your package.)

7) „We have calculated your salary based on expat cost of living data from our provider.“ (We hardly understand them either.)

8) „Sorry for not responding to you sooner. We had to clarify the process internally. (And we are underpaid and overworked being online most of the time of the day.)

9) Our policy does not foresee this case. („And it costs me too much time to claim an exception for you.)

10) „Our vendor contract does not clarify if this service is included.“ (And actually you might be able to handle this easily by googling.)

 

Legal notice: **This blog post is to be taken with a grain of salt. I know: German humor is hard to understand.

How do Global Mobility Professionals demonstrate more Value?

 

Guest Post by Kevin Castro

In a survey commissioned in 2019 by Santa Fe Relocation Services and conducted by Savanta, a critical view is revealed on how and why Global Mobility professionals need to take action to affect change. 

The findings suggest again that even now, not all stakeholders are aware of the full roles performed by Global Mobility and that there is an opportunity here to educate both internal and external stakeholders on the true future potential that Global Mobility brings to an organisation and its development. This is further underpinned by John Rason, Group Head of Consulting, Santa Fe Relocation, who identifies that: “Those of us working in the Global Mobility industry will tell you that it can be frustrating, challenging, complex—sometimes even scary. However, when executed well it can also be exciting, fulfilling…” 

You can request a copy of the report by clicking here

While Senior Leadership recognizes the role that GM professionals play in the organization, does it transcend to having real benefits for those supporting the company’s best talents i.e. not feeling under-resourced or undervalued?

Perhaps only for some. As GM professionals, how can we further demonstrate value in order to improve the team’s perception and thus influence how the organization provides support to the team? It is evident from the above quote that challenging, rewarding work is being done but not being recognized at all junctures. In fact, given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on international travel and thus international assignments and GM in general, Global Mobility professionals have stepped up in a big way to manage and facilitate expats stranded in foreign countries, navigating complicated and unknown pathways to providing them essential support.

Such value should not go unappreciated. In light of that, I have listed four points, which I hope can help you and your teams increase your value in the organization:

1. Get a Seat at the Table 

Do you have Joint-Business Planning with your HR & Business Leaders? If none yet, you should start engaging them in order to better understand their goals, focus, and how you can support Talent Strategy. This may lead to an easier path in demonstrating your value to the business as you will get to know how and where to play towards their goals. Does your company do assignee pre-screening, where you determine the suitable candidates for the international assignments? If not, this is something that you can explore and introduce. If done right, you avoid the pitfalls of selecting the wrong people. 

2. Communicate Your Value, Regularly and Consistently

Do you consistently communicate what you have achieved, the projects you initiated? Ensure that you communicate the things that you do and how you have supported the business. A study by Cartus in 2016, a global relocation services provider, found out that 54% of companies lack focus on tracking and reporting on assignments. Hence, it is high time to gather that data (assignment success, costs, the return on investment, assignees feedback, etc.) and have a regular newsletter, blog post or presentation at your next strategy and planning meeting. As my clients always ask, how will I know if the expat assignment is successful? Presenting reports is useful to communicate such info. 

3. Demonstrate Why Your Expertise Matters

You are the expert, and you should try to demonstrate this frequently. You can do this through sharing GM insights, trends, and how these contribute to business or talent strategy. If the opportunity is available to increase your Global Mobility expertise through having certification and further studies. GM organizations and consultancy organizations provide certifications/courses, where you can further deepen your mobility knowledge. For example, Global People Transitions offers the FlyMe! Program, a career coaching geared towards Global Mobility professionals.

An academic course to certify you as a “Global Mobility Advisor” is available with Expatise Academy in collaboration with Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

4. Be Flexible and Agile 

In previous years, the goal was to ensure that you arrange logistics and meet compliance needs, which are more transactional. In today’s world, the role expands and you are now viewed by the business as a strategic partner not merely as administrators. You should always understand what is important to the business. Today, the focus may be costs, but it might be something else in three months’ time. Keep your eyes and ears open for this and be agile and flexible.

In addition, as practitioner (in-house or outsourced),tyou should also be aware of trends in terms of mobility practices and service delivery.  You can start by looking at how technology affects the delivery. Do all assignees adapt to these changes, or do we provide omnichannel delivery? What do other companies do?  Such questions might lead you to new service delivery models or enhancement.

I hope these four points will prove to be beneficial for you and will help your team to push more value to the organization. So, don’t forget to get a seat, market your value, be the expert and be agile and flexible.

I remember a conversation with my previous boss, where he shared with me that HR is a cost-generating function, so it might sometimes receive smaller budgets (e.g. hiring additional headcount, higher bonus, etc.). However, HR’s role has transformed itself from a back-office support function into a more strategic business partner. This principle should also apply on Global Mobility regardless of where it is structured in the company. In fact, as the Santa Fe survey points out, Global Mobility is now increasingly connecting more formally with broader HR and Centres of Excellence subjects such as: workforce planning, innovative policies and advisory services (to both executive management and employees).

To summarise, in today’s world, Global Mobility teams are and will continue to become more valuable than ever!

P.S Sign up for FlyMe! now. If you would like to become a Global Mobility Specialist or deepen your knowledge, improve your skill set and build your professional network at the same time, this program is for you. Read in details below.

 

Kevin Castro is a Filipino by birth, who lived in Singapore for almost 8 years and is now residing in Zurich. A Global Mobility professional, with experience in Mobility Operations, HR Services, Project & Supplier Management, and Customer Service. He is currently learning German and at the same time enjoying cooking & curating travel experiences.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevin-castro-37010a49/

Staying positive through fall and beyond 🍂 Plus a rare chance to attend Faust

 

I’m sure everyone has noticed the arrival of fall by now – the avalanche of brilliant red-golden leaves falling off trees, the shortening of precious daylight hours and the sudden briskness in the breeze.

While the beauty of a European fall is unparalleled, for some people the shorter days and cold weather heralds a period of demotivation. For me it is the “Zurich fog” and November that gets to me. So I have thought about ways to make November bearable.

Dealing with feelings of loneliness is doubly tough when you are an expat who just arrived here. However, even international people who have lived here for years sometimes miss good friends in this city.

Feeling lonely can affect not just your work performance, but your everyday life too. So today, I’d like to talk about ways in which we can keep ourselves inspired and motivated through November and the impending winter months, especially if we don’t have a family here.

Forestalling November Blues

 

Plan and stick to an exercise routine

Another critical component of improving your health is to fix and improve your sleep regimen. In today’s always-on era, we are all guilty, to a certain extent, or taking actions that poorly affect the quality of our sleep. So here is a short primer on how to get better, more refreshing sleep daily:

Take your mobile devices to bed. Give them a place in your home outside of your bedroom where you place them by 9 pm. After you’ve put your phone to bed, don’t touch it anymore. Use the “sleep” mode to block incoming messages. Turn off the buzzers.

Stop using all electronic devices two hours before you want to sleep. Studies show that the light emitted by screens can interfere with the body’s natural sleep-wake rhythms. Instead, consider going to bed with a novel or other light reading (again, not on devices).

Practice relaxation techniques such as PMR. Progressive Muscle Relaxation is especially beneficial for reducing muscle tension caused by psychological stress and has a proven rejuvenating effect if practiced regularly.

Get up at the same time every morning. This loops back to the discussion on how routine-building is beneficial to physical and mental health.

Learn a creative skill

An unforeseen consequence of expatriation is just how much every aspect of it takes over your life – from the learning curve of the new job to the subtle details of integrating into a new culture and country.
By the end of the day you may find yourself with no time left for your own growth.

In the scenario described above, it can be tough to carve out regular time for developing creative skills that interest you, especially if you don’t have an accountability buddy or coach to keep you motivated.

How does one find inspiration? I find that duplicating, or being a part of what the creative community does every fall is an excellent way to both build new relationships and spend time on yourself. In particular, I am referring to trends such as Inktober (in October) and National Novel Writing Month (in November) where large swathes of communities online and offline get together to create and explore their artistic sides daily for the duration of that month. We have our very own Zurich writer’s community supporting you with the Woolf.

If such creative endeavours appeal to you, definitely pursue them! Otherwise, you can utilise the same template for whatever skill you are looking to develop. Devote a fixed amount of time daily where, distraction free, you engage in a certain skill-building activity. As with the previous suggestion on exercise, routine and regularity is key! This is the reason why I encourage you to write those 25 minutes practices into your RockMeApp and tick them off at the end of the week. A good practice would be: “On 5 days out of 7, I’m writing my long-hand diary 25 minutes a day to develop a writing routine”.

Understand and explore your host culture through the German language

Though any time of the year is a good time to increase your understanding of the host country’s culture, fall is especially important. The weather is kinder towards cultural events like music festivals, theater and cinema, the perfect opportunity for you to interact with like-minded people at social events and integrate into society!

In fact, while we’re on the subject of exploring culture and language, I’d like to bring your attention towards a play being performed at the Schauspielhaus Zurich, Faust I.

Not only is Goethe’s Faust I considered the pinnacle of German literature, but its theater adaptation is also the most popular German-language play. I highly recommend that you take some time out to attend this play, its impact is felt not just in German culture but in cultures across the world. You can also read up some backstory to the epic tragedy of Faust before attending the performance.

SPOTLIGHT: Goethe’s Faust I at the Schauspielhaus

I would like to highlight just what makes this performance of Faust I so special. The Schauspielhaus Zurich is one of the most prominent theaters in the German-speaking world, with an auspicious history dating back all the way to 1892, when it served as a stage for vaudeville performances and live music. Hosting a play as illustrious as Faust at a location that is essentially hallowed grounds for German arts and heritage essentially makes it the cultural event of the year! To celebrate with the international community in Zürich, the Schauspielhaus invites us to a special event.

All performances at the Schauspielhaus feature English surtitles now.

There will be an English-speaking introduction with welcome drinks starting at 6.15 pm. This is not only a great chance to learn more about the German culture. It’s also a cozy way to meet like-minded professionals. We invite the Global People Club for:

Saturday, 9  November 2019 at 6:15 pm

“Goethe, the Schauspielhaus Zurich and what it means for your integration”
– An English-speaking introduction to the house by one of the Schauspielhaus directors combined with welcome drinks.
7:00 pm – 10:20 pm
Play: Faust I by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Staging: Nicolas Stemann.

As a reader you can get two tickets for the price of one in any category for this special event on Saturday, 9 November 2019. To book your tickets, please email or call the box office by Monday, 4 November 19 with the code “Meet Schauspielhaus” and mention “GlobalPeopleTransitions”. 

Tel: +41 44 258 77 77
E-Mail: theaterkasse@schauspielhaus.ch

If you have any questions about the event you can also contact me. I will be there as well. If you have never read Faust I before I’d advise that you read it before the play. In my opinion this play is the key to understanding the “German soul”. You can see more details about the play on the Schauspielhaus website.

You need to develop your Global Competency

Why it is so difficult to come up with a good curriculum for Global Mobility

As you probably understood already the arena of Global Mobility is vast and no Global Mobility Manager will have all the answers. If you enjoy constant challenges and a day that never looks the same Global Mobility could be right for you. However, you also need to be very structured, focussed and analytical. For Global Mobility Educators, it is a constant challenge to provide a curriculum that is based on the right career level and also deep enough. Most courses you will find about Global Mobility in your home country will assume the home approach and all the special legal areas will mainly be presented based on “home” legislation and in the home language. If you are managing a global population and wish to implement a host approach you will need to go through a lot of learning by doing and you probably have to invent the wheel.

The Expatise Academy in Holland

I recommend the Expatise Academy program in Global Mobility because I am a lecturer at the Academy and have seen how they ensure the high-quality standards in teaching. The program has a modular approach and follows your career development as a Global Mobility Professional. You should consider learning the basics at least for the home country of labor and employment law, immigration, personal and corporate tax and you need to understand your Global Mobility policy and compensation approaches.

Global Competency

A factor that is often underestimated in Global Mobility is the critical importance of developing global competency. As long as we do not see cultural differences, we do not know why men and women from other cultures behave and think differently than we do. We just assume that they are “strange”. Also, we might think we treat the other person with respect but the concept of respect is defined differently in other culture. Even if we consider ourselves open-minded, we might not have developed the skills that we need in order to be more effective in other cultures.

Our brains today still work in a similar way to that of the cavewoman. We often decide only about fight or flight. We hardly ever step back in stressful situations and think “Why is that person behaving like this?”.  We rarely sit down, take a deep breath, smile and then write a polite email to say that our judgment of the situation might have been guided by our own values and assumptions. No. Normally we jump to conclusions first and put other people’s behavior in a box (Like / Not Like). Facebook does not help.

We rely on our mental images and can become prejudiced because this is the way our gut decides if we are safe or in danger. Our mental images are influenced by our inner landscapes but also largely by the pictures we see on the news channels every day.  When some Westerners hear “Pakistan” they think “terrorism”, “Islamists”, “oppression of women” and “Osama bin Laden” instead of  “IT professionals”, “tourism” or even “Benazir Bhutto”.

A holistic Global Competency model

For the development of global competency, I have developed a simplified model with five elements: knowledge,  attitude, skills, experience and body learning. I first explained this model in an article in the German-speaking HR magazine Persorama (Weinberger, 2013). I work with this model in executive coaching and it also helps junior professionals start developing their effectiveness in a global context.

What is Global Competency?

Global Competency is the ability to work effectively in a global, complex environment with a high level of stress while achieving goals sustainably and in accordance with your own resources. It is a combination of knowledge, attitude, skills, reflected experiences and body learning.

Let’s look at the different elements of Global Competency.

Knowledge

You can gain knowledge of a country’s history,  politics, economy, and religion.  It is helpful not to focus only on factual information but to prioritize all the topics you enjoy reading about. As mentioned previously, start with the home country and move on to the knowledge areas of other legislation. Areas of knowledge you need to study are the tax, social security, immigration, local employment law, business terms, compensation and benefits, country-specific history and processes.

Attitude

It is very important that you develop openness for ambiguity, the potential to accept new experiences and the questioning of your own cultural minting. Through making yourself aware of and verifying your own cultural beliefs, you develop a more open attitude. Once you understand and are aware of your own cultural attitude and behaviors you are able to change your behavior to be more effective. You want to develop a global mindset and become more open towards ambiguity and not knowing. You want to practice curiosity and learn to be humble and serving.

Skills

Through developing your foreign language skills, active listening and empathy you can gain better access to people of other cultures. In today’s technology-driven times I believe it is also important for a globally active professional to have media competency. It’s important to be effective in telephone and video-conferences, but also to be able to build connections via LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. If you are working in Global Mobility you will have to develop your analytical problem- solving skills, you need a feel for numbers. You want to develop your language skills (especially English). You might need consulting and communication skills. You need to improve the way you build relationships.  You need to work with information and communication technology effectively and have a grasp of Social Media.

Reflected Experience

When dealing with other cultures it is helpful to analyze critical situations and incidents. One option is the „search for the proof of the opposite. You could, for example, have an assumption about a person’s cultural behavior and then assume that it’s the opposite of your assumption and find proof for this theory. You can start to write an intercultural diary and reflect your assignee cases by applying systemic thinking. You need the ability to record cases, decisions, and exceptions. You need to able to note the details while not losing focus of the overall process. You could debrief challenging assignees with an external coach.

Body Learning

By learning dances or practicing martial arts, and relaxation methods you learn to focus and you will feel better in your body. Thereby you will be able to handle the stress and global complexity a lot better. A good physical constitution is helpful to remain globally competent and effective.  Other creative tasks such as painting, playing the piano and photography are also helpful. You want to develop a good routine for processing information. You can increase your presence in meetings and with your clients by following our advice on learning a dance, martial art or relaxation method.

Test your Intercultural Sensitivity

A lot of scientific work has been written on intercultural sensitivity. My favorite model is Milton Bennett’s developmental model of intercultural sensitivity (DMIS). This model is the basis for the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) by  Hammer and Bennett (2001).
Would you like to test your intercultural sensitivity with the IDI and see if you estimated your competence correctly?
If you would like to go through the test you can email me. The cost is CHF 97 including a debriefing.