Author Archives: Angie Weinberger
Zurich

With Five Pandemic Proven Methods for Connection

Modern society has evolved in many regards, especially in how we interact with each other. A significant amount of these interactions now happen in digital social spaces than real ones. One excuse I get a lot these days is that you can’t “network” because it’s very difficult to meet other people in person, especially people you don’t know.

Digital spaces are revolutionary and have brought people at great distances together but if you are like me you probably feel entirely ready to leave the house and meet a stranger in person. I have started to chat a bit longer with the bakery lady and the guy who fixes my doner kebab. It’s weird but necessary because human interaction has become so scarce and I also feel that we all deserve a bit more love these days. Don’t get me wrong: I’m generally not a very chatty person unless I’ve known someone for a long time. I rather keep a “professional” interaction short and this might come across as arrogance to some. 

However, over the last year I changed my attitude a lot. The pandemic has made me realize how little I often connect with people in business as in good German style I still separate business and pleasure, colleagues and friends. If you have listened to my workshops about the importance of building relationship you probably wonder how I can hold up this paradox. 

My answer is simple: It’s a deeper level of trust that I share with the friends and more personal connections. I also don’t hold back whereas in a professional environment I would probably not use certain expressions. Today it’s all a bit more blurred because I speak to everyone from my living room. I feel like I let everyone into my personal space, hence they must be able to handle the more authentic “Angela” as well.

Building Trust Through Offline Networking

When was the last time you trusted a random person on the internet? In fact, isn’t the first advice given to anyone on online social media to ignore and not trust anything a stranger tells you? Just how much of a relationship do you have with someone you’ve only interacted with in Twitter DMs? And even worse, if you are on social media you probably get abused by scammers and other annoying people a lot. Social media for me has a dark side and it’s very easy to feel vulnerable there after you were told for the 100th time that someone wants something from you. Most of the time I find it irritating and frustrating.

Professional networking, similarly, can only go so far to building your relationships if they’re limited to online interactions. Face-to-face meetings help develop a higher level of trust among participants – positive body language plays a great role in helping put nervous people at ease. Similarly, interacting in the same physical space (over a coffee, at a lunch or even a mixer of sorts) is a great ice-breaker. Shared experiences always do leave a lasting memory, what better way to start building a repertoire with your network?

Believe in the Networking Karma

The thing about networking is, it’s not a transactional relationship. You don’t go into it expecting rewards, or even gratitude. You do it because you believe in ‘networking karma’. That said, you are only human and even the most generous of givers can find themselves overwhelmed at times. That’s why it is important to set up boundaries that help you prevent burnout and maintain a healthy relationship with yourself and your network. I have adopted the “Five-Minute-Favor” from Adam M. Grant’s book “Give and Take” as one of the principles that I can easily say yes to. With knowledge exchange it depends on whether I feel I get the same inspiration out of the relationship that I give in. Usually, this is the case in most of my networking groups, usually I prefer “Erfa”-Groups where practical tips are exchanged to a captive audience and “Mastermind-Groups”, where we usually bring our lazy selves forward and overcome imposter syndrome. In Switzerland you can also follow the institutionalized networking by joining an association or club that is dedicated to your profession. If you need more advice on this please reach out to me. I’m offering my resources and recommendation to readers and clients within our HireMeExpress program.

Five Pandemic Ideas for Offline Networking

1 – Go for a Walk at Lake Zurich with a Cup of Americano

The easiest way to network offline right now is the walk along the lake with a coffee to go. I have finally bought a reusable cup because the waste of coffee cups and general one-way packaging is starting to get on my nerves. My local bakery accepts that you bring your own plate or bowl when you buy lunch from them.

2 – Allow for a Weekly “Watercooler Chat”

What I am missing the most about working in an office environment is the social part, the watercooler chats about not so professional topics, the casual bumping into colleagues and asking them about their cats and the general exchange of fun and pleasantries when you work with the same people for years. As a global digital nomad you will have to get used to building up relationships fast but there are always people that you have known for a long-time even if you worked at different companies or on different projects. And it is absolutely okay if you contact them without a reason and set up a “Watercooler” chat where you strictly make smalltalk only or chat about your family or the last tech problem you faced when trying to organize a vaccination for your mother from abroad. I know you are as keen as I am in turning into a mega productive robot but allow yourself this time by blocking half an hour once a week (that’s in addition to a daily lunch break).

3 – Visit the Zoo or Kunstmuseum

I admit that I haven’t been to the Zurich Zoo yet and the last time I went to the Kunstmuseum was probably when I was here as a tourist or when I had friends over from other countries. I admit that I tend to not fully utilize all the opportunities Zurich offers during “normal” times but if you wanted to meet me right now these two options are open and you can connect while watching giraffes or looking at a Warhol. I am sure this will go down really well as a networking opportunity. 

And: If you aren’t convinced yet at least take your kids there to support the Zoo because…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztC2QCkge2I&ab_channel=ZooZ%C3%BCrich

4 – Go for a Hike

Generally we have a lot of opportunities for small hikes in the city and out in the countryside. If you are a workaholic you might not be aware of them so I suggest you start with Uetliberg, Felsenegg, Greifensee and Pfäffikersee. I don’t own a car but most of these locations can be accessed by public transportation and if you wish to save your contact time you will need to let them know how they get there or pick them up.

5 – Share a Themed Take Out Meal on a Park Bench

With the upcoming week and the spring weather we are expecting you could invite a person you wish to meet to a themed take out meal on a park bench. Even if restaurants are still closed we have these beautiful parks in Zurich and a botanical garden where you can take your lunch in a beautiful atmosphere. If you want to make it even more interesting you could combine it with a topic or an expert interview.

If you are a Giver Watch your Boundaries

If you’re a seasoned professional with the wisdom of experience to share, offline networking can help you build trust with those who wish to seek your advice but would hesitate to reach out to you directly. By giving off an approachable vibe, perhaps giving a little impromptu talk to a group of people, you can embed that necessary bit of trust in younger professionals to reach out and network with you and others at your position. They’d go on to do it when they reach your place in their careers, and continue the cycle of positive networking!

A natural consequence of purposeful networking is the asking and giving of advice. For experienced professionals, especially those who actively network, it can soon become an overwhelming practice. Giving advice is great, it’s what makes the world turn, but when your network constantly reaches out for advice on anything from spreadsheet optimization to career planning, it can lead to the sort of burnout that makes you want to stop networking. It may also negatively impact your health!

Learning to say no is never easy, especially if you’re worried about coming off as impolite. It is, however, essential. Let your principles guide you: Develop a strategy that lets you identify scenarios where you say yes and those where you say no. Stick to this guideline and maintain your sanity!

Kind regards,

Angie Weinberger

Why you need networking principles

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRUXcBT_QS8&t=10s&ab_channel=AngieWeinberger

https://www.everydayhealth.com/coronavirus/how-to-not-let-pandemic-fatigue-turn-into-pandemic-burnout/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdFudLPyqng&ab_channel=RobBulder

Social Media Presence is Key!

A guest post by Nabeha Latif – Social Media Guru

This week I’ll be talking about one of the most important tools in a professional’s repertoire: the LinkedIn profile. With over 500 million users, a LinkedIn profile isn’t just an afterthought, it is a mainstay of modern recruitment. Something that essential needs to be mastered fully, so let’s get to it. Presenting:

Top 10 Tips for a Killer LinkedIn Profile

1 – Get a Personalised URL

In my experience, far too many professionals forget to do this, often because they simply forgot about it. LinkedIn provides you the ability to discard the standard URL (which is a jumble of letters and numbers) and have a vanity URL instead. This personalised URL can be used to promote your profile in email signatures, on business cards, portfolios and resumes. It also gives you the ability to target better organic SEO by putting in your job title or industry. Having your profile appear as a top Google search result against a job title keyword is a pretty useful trick! Check out LinkedIn’s own guide on setting up a personal URL for your profile here.

2 – Nail that Headline!

You’ve got only six seconds to catch the attention of a recruiter on LinkedIn, which makes your headline absolutely do-or-die. Do make sure your headline contains the necessary keywords that are SEO friendly (that is, they contain certain words that people generally use when searching for the relevant job title or industry) and allow people to identify your industry with ease. Do make the most of the allotted 120 characters, don’t just write your job description. Try being playful (if appropriate) with word choices – sky’s the limit when it comes to creativity. Of course, don’t forget your real purpose: catching a recruiter’s attention. If your profile views drop, a reason could be that your headline needs to be re-worked.

3 – Populate your Experience

Just like some people sometimes forget to update our CVs, LinkedIn profiles too can become stagnant. That’s why, every so often, you should sit down and make sure that everything from your summary, work history, projects, trainings and education is up-to-date. It helps to employ the same sort of creativity you used to create your perfect headline to show how you excelled during a particular role. Make sure that you review and plug in any gaps that may have been left in the first time round. The more a hiring manager sees of you, the easier it makes for them to decide if you meet their requirements.

If you have privacy concerns, you can choose not to share details about your career or self that you consider sensitive, as a LinkedIn profile is public and trawled by internet search engines. Concerns about private data stored by LinkedIn can be addressed by going through their GDPR-compliant privacy policy.

4 – Get Creative!

This is the third time I am mentioning creativity – that is how important it is. In a sea of automation (LinkedIn now has a feature that autofills your summary), it is very easy to drown in the overwhelming number of similar looking profiles. Learning to showcase your skills and experience in a smart, catchy manner greatly increases your chances of getting noticed by the right people. Put in media from YouTube, your favourite design wireframes or any public mentions or accolades you may have accumulated! You can do that by going to Add Profile Section > Accomplishments and choosing the appropriate section.

5 – Engage, Engage, Engage

LinkedIn is a social network after all and engagement is key to building a healthy profile. Engaging with peers through endorsements is a positive methodology, not only will you establish a good rapport with your network but will receive endorsements in return. That rapport can help you reach out for recommendations, an important aspect of building your brand and establishing yourself as a significant presence in your industry.
It is also imperative that you join the conversation. On groups, with key influencers, with colleagues and peers. Profiles that engage actively on groups are 5 times more likely to be viewed!

6 – Master the Algorithm

A killer LinkedIn profile is one that hits the top of the search results every time someone searches for a certain kind of professional. Want your profile to be the one the LinkedIn search algorithm chooses? Here’s how: Complete your profile, 100%.

LinkedIn’s algorithm is designed to give top priority to profiles which are complete (they are referred to as “All Star Profiles” and only 51% of users have those). This means that if you missed out on any aspect of your profile, you will essentially be invisible in the search results. No one wants that.

On the subject of LinkedIn Premium: spending money on a premium account will not affect your profile in any way, there are no new features there. Those accounts are targeted more towards recruiters and job seekers looking to directly connect with people not on their network. That is why purchasing a premium account will not be helpful in improving the quality of your LinkedIn profile

7 – SEO is King

Some digital specialists posit that the modern Internet is driven solely on SEO. That may be debatable but in the case of LinkedIn, that is very much true! Make sure that your profile is the one found by external search engines: optimize job titles, descriptions and as previously mentioned, in the vanity URL. All these fields are text only and thus will be parsed by search engines, you want to maximise your chances of being the top of those result lists. “Digital Guru” may sound like a catchy job title but people searching for “digital marketer” or “digital marketing specialist” will never know of you! The key is to keep it simplistic so that you can be easily found.

8 – Be Pixel Perfect!

Having a professional profile picture on LinkedIn is critical – first impressions matter! Questions to ask yourself when selecting a profile picture: Does it have a neutral background? Are you appropriately dressed? Did a professional photographer take the picture or is it just a selfie?

I’m also going to direct you towards how you can elevate your profile by making sure you optimize the technical aspects of the images you use. Hootsuite covers it in great detail if you’re interested, but to summarize: Make sure your images are the right aspect ratio, meet the minimum pixel count and are the correct file types. You don’t want your images to be blurry or misshapen due to incorrect dimensions!

9 – It’s not a Sprint, it’s a Marathon

You burn through an entire weekend getting your profile into tip-top shape. Great, you now have a killer LinkedIn profile! However, what happens after a week? A month? Six months? Remember this statistic: 40% of LinkedIn’s active user-base logs in daily to the platform. These are the people who take time out every day to post, interact, tweak and improve their profiles, connections and more. Emulate them, make LinkedIn a part of your routine, it will maintain your profile as one of the best and help maximise your chances of catching the eye of recruiters, should you be looking for a new job.

10 – Run a Company? Treat the Page as you would your Profile

If you run your own business and have it listed on your LinkedIn profile, you should make sure that the company page receives the same care and attention as your profile. After all, both must reflect the same values. Rigorously fill in and verify the information pertaining to your company, set up a consistent posting schedule and boost posts from your own employees – all add up to creating an interactive and healthy social space around your company.


Female Entrepreneurs and Finance

It’s 50 years ago that women in Switzerland were granted the right to vote and while this might seem like a reason to celebrate it is also scary. Unlike in other countries in Europe women in Switzerland had to fight for a long time to be granted this right. You would think gender equality is self-evident here but it is not. Reality is still that many women earn less than their male counterparts, that having a career as a woman is rather unusual and being a female breadwinner is still an exception. And while I always worked or had my own money since I left high school, money and I have never been great friends. Money is a source of stress for me that I either avoid completely or obsess over. In an attempt at healing my relationship with money many years ago I first had to learn a few basics and make some key mistakes. I want to encourage you to learn more about finance and money and become financially independent.

I repeatedly asked myself three questions when I started my own business in Switzerland:

  • Will I ever get my head around the financial side of the business?
  • Will I ever get better at managing the cash flow?
  • Will I ever make enough income to not feel stressed and under pressure?

Cash flow did not make sense to me. 

I am really good at computing cost projections and balance sheets for expats. I can explain the difference between purchasing power parity and cost-of-living index. I can tell you how COLA relates to foreign exchange rates. I was excellent in Math as a student. So it’s NOT that I don’t like numbers or that I am not a “numbers” person (which unfortunately a lot of women attribute themselves with). I like math and numbers but I missed something else.

My issue was more that I lacked the practical understanding of a “good housewife”. I didn’t know how much a liter of milk would normally cost in the supermarket. I didn’t know those little secrets of saving money in Switzerland such as the fact that Migros and Denner are essentially under the same corporate umbrella but you can buy twice as much food at Denner.

When I was working as a Global Mobility Leader, I had a good paycheck. In Germany, I would even go grocery shopping in the “bio” shop Alnatura. My mother would say that I might as well go shopping in a pharmacy. For me, this meant “quality of life”. It meant that I would not be stressed at the cashier on Saturday because five other people were in line behind me like in the other supermarket. And I had the idea that I was eating healthy and helping the environment by buying “bio”.

There was another issue why I stopped learning more about finance, investments, saving money when I was employed: I had a bad relationship with money. Money stinks. Money doesn’t make you happy. When you have money, you don’t talk about it. I had all sorts of relationship issues with money. Money reminded me of scams or bad deals my mother and I had gotten into because we were naive and believed a banker would know what they were doing.

This article is for you if you started out as a business owner or if you feel that you need to heal your relationship to money. And if you are not a female but you feel you need to get better with money, you may read this article as well. Let’s try to understand a few basics of finance and financial independence.

Maintain a Cash Flow Plan

If you want to run a sustainable business, work with a cash flow plan. It can be a simple one, but you need to have your finances in order. In the early days of my business, I asked my BFF (who is a Finance guru) to review my business plan. She explained that I would just need to ensure that there is a cash flow in and that this is bigger than cash flow out. Easier said than done, but I still use that same plan a decade later.

Move from Fixed Income to Fluctuating Income

When you are used to a certain lifestyle with a fixed monthly income you rely on that paycheck a lot because you tend to tailor your lifestyle around your consistent monthly income. If you are unemployed or if you start out as a freelancer you have to get used to a fluctuating income. 

A starting capital and cash reserve are important. If you are responsible for rent, health insurance, phone bills, transportation, food and other necessities you need to ensure that you can cover your basic needs for several slow months. In the first five years you might make a lot less than you are used to. You will need to change your lifestyle significantly.

Ideally, you have a reserve for a year in your bank account or someone who would help you out such as a parent or friend. Don’t bring your partner or spouse into your business. This can weigh heavily on your relationship and you also have to consider what it means in case of them facing unemployment, serious disease or death. Before you start a business in Switzerland, you should understand what this would mean for a (married) spouse. The legislation is not always logical, hence you need professional advice before you stir yourself and your partner into a dead end.

Read Finance Information with Different Angles

It is challenge to read finance information when it is written in a bad way and often directed at bankers or industry professionals rather than the “simple user”. I have addressed communication with bankers several times already. Most financial information is written in a way that no one wants to read it. Some of it does not even make a lot of sense. I received a weird letter the other day and sent it back with edits and side comments. The main message was: We could not deduct money from your account but there was a lot of fluff around it. It took me a while to understand why this company wrote to me. 

Also, I was very happy when a few years ago for the first time the bank gave me two female relationship managers: One for my personal account and one for my business account and we immediately noticed that we had a lot in common.

I have started to read the Cash Guru and I also find the LGT Navigator helpful. If you like “Gossip Girl” you probably enjoy “Inside Paradeplatz”. Another good resource is Finews.ch

Learn Vocabulary and Budgeting

If you want to appear financially competent when talking to your bank manager, financial advisors, insurance brokers, mortgage providers, or lawyers, you need to know a few basics and speak their language. For example, you need to understand interest and how it works. Also negative interest, debt, and how you get into debt. What is an advantage of a mortgage versus paying rent? How do open and closed investment funds actually work?

In the early years and even before I launched GPT, I used to spend more than I earned. I applied “Reaganomics”. What works in politics, does not really work for a small business. At the time, I did not really understand that this investment could hinder my potential for getting out of the red figures in the long term.

I made bad financial decisions. For example, I started to pay myself a salary too early. I listened to an advisor and should have listened to my gut feeling. Remember that other people’s experiences in the business world could be biased. They have opened their business many years before. Switzerland has also suffered from the global economic crisis.  Often the Swiss have access to networks that foreigners will not really get into. Depending on your type of business, you should have a current account, which balances your company and your personal investments. I would advise that you separate your private and company accounts.

Split Larger Invoices

My business is cyclical and once I understood the cost and earning cycle, I could prepare myself better for the downtimes. For example, I have a lot of annual invoices in January but January is often a slow month. You can ask to split invoices into smaller payment plans. Often, when you ask the insurance provider they are willing to support you on a payment plan. If you want to be ahead of your costs, you should ask for larger invoices and pay them as soon as you possibly can. You can ask for an extension of a payment deadline and mainly you have to know that you need to be in contact with the company who raised the invoice to you. They don’t like it if you ghost on them.

Pay Vendors and Freelancers in Advance

When I can I pay all my freelancers in advance so that they would always get their money. It means that I have to budget their quarterly invoices too and it happened once or twice that I had to put a service on hold because of lack of funding. 

Another principle I have developed is to check my account twice or thrice a week, sometimes even daily. I issue an invoice as soon as the service has been delivered or as soon as the booking has been confirmed.

Many large relocation companies and training agencies have very long payment periods. I suffered greatly from these in the early years of my business. I had delivered a service but sometimes was only paid 60 to 90 days later. In some instances, invoices got lost in cost center discussions and bad processes. Once I got paid two years later only. Now, I am more careful about the agreements in the contracts and I follow up on outstanding invoices faster. This doesn’t always guarantee that all invoices are paid on time but companies sometimes agree to advance payments and you can always decide to stop working with a client if their payments take too long. However, with private clients you should always agree to a full payment in advance or a payment plan.

At the moment you might still try to find a job in your new country and you hesitate about working as a freelancer or starting a side gig. The good news is that the steps for both are pretty similar. We will be happy to give you further guidance and inspiration through our HireMeExpress program starting again in April. Sign up here to find out everything you need to know in order to earn an income in a new market. 

Angie Weinberger

HireMeExpress

HireMeExpress is the online course that will get you from desperate to carving out an income and feeling at home in your new country. Sign up here to find out everything you need to know in order to land a job in Switzerland or another market you are not familiar with. We will shortly give you access to videos, live workshops and add you to our waiting list for when HireMeExpress opens again in April 2021.

I am now three months into my new job, what someone would call my first real job, and my student life seems so far behind. The truth is that less than a year has gone by since I finished writing my thesis and my student ID expired just four months ago.

Fortunately and unpredictably, 2020 was for me a rather eventful year despite what could be common assumptions. In particular, one event at the very beginning of the year marked a great part of the months that followed: in January, I happily signed my six months’ internship agreement at Global People Transitions. Only one condition initially made me doubtful about embarking on this challenge: working from home. Was I going to get the real work experience feeling? Was I going to be able to bond with my colleagues? Was I going to feel isolated or lonely?  

I look back and smile at this thought as, ironically, that was the very factor that made my internship possible at a time the world was shaken by the current global pandemic.

I started off my internship on April 1st, when some governments had already adopted heavy restrictions for containing the spread of the virus, while others still thought there wasn’t really much to worry about…things have changed so much that perhaps that’s also why it feels so long ago.

The internship at GPT kept me busy for a great part of 2020 and, in hindsight, I can see how it brought good things and concrete perspectives in 2021 as well. I feel lucky because I know that many others out there probably share opposite feelings.

The 6 months’ experience at GPT shaped me both at a professional and at a personal level. Being trained, supervised, and coached directly by the founder and Managing Director Angie Weinberger provided me with concrete tools, useful to face the upcoming work challenges with a down-to-earth approach.

Today, I would like to share with you the seven reasons, though not the only ones, why I think that interested candidates should consider an internship at GPT:

1. You Learn an Awful Lot About Global Mobility

Angie Weinberger is a renown professional with decades of experience as a Global Mobility Manager, Lecturer, Trainer and Coach. Being her right hand for six months meant earning an incredible amount of knowledge in the field of Global Mobility and being able to get a first-hand experience in the buzzing Expat World.

From the most administrative and practical aspects of setting up an international assignment to the most hidden and psychological facets of family relocation and culture shock, I learnt that being a Global Mobility expert means much more than getting the conversion rate right.

2. You get the international vibe

This might sound very much predictable – after all expats are international – however, not all internships in the Global Mobility sector offer you this opportunity. At Global People Transitions, I regularly and directly handled communications with many clients from different cultural, professional, and educational backgrounds, some of them living in Switzerland, and many others in more or less far away countries. But it’s more than that: you get to exchange with stakeholders and partners all over the world and have the opportunity to experience first-hand how things are done differently elsewhere.

The best aspect, however, is being part of a vibrant international team and this is not a foregone conclusion. At GPT I had the pleasure to work with a small though strong team of global professionals with considerable intercultural experience. Currently, GTP team counts six components spread across four different countries, three continents and four different time zones. Where else do you find these perks?

3. You Expand Your Professional Network

Something an internship should definitely give you is good prospects for the future career you want to embark on. It should build that last layer of foundations that you’ve been constantly growing with dedication and hard work through your studies and potentially, previous internships.

Now, creating a professional network for yourself is one of the most fundamental steps you take early in your career. And as an intern at GPT you are served this very opportunity on a plate. You handle communications with important partners, you participate in webinars, you set up interviews and podcast recordings with experienced professionals of various fields…you even might be invited to take part in in-person workshops with Angie’s clients!

And if this was not enough to expand your network of professional contacts, you’re given even more tools during the coaching (more about it at point 5) to help you enhance your professional presence both face-to-face and online.

4. You Boost Your Entire Skill Set

Before starting my internship at GPT I found it hard to believe I was even going to learn some basic programming and help out with graphic design. But it happened, I took the opportunity, made the most out of it and today I know a little more than I did before this challenge.

This is to say that even if officially an “academic internship”, the experience gives you the chance to strengthen skills you already have and for which you were probably selected, but also to test abilities you didn’t even know you had in you.

What I personally feel I became stronger at are interpersonal and intercultural communication, organizational, problem-solving, research, and analytical as well as digital skills. But I also definitely improved my time management skills and became a more resourceful professional, which is one of the most important teachings I take away from working in a start-up environment.

5. You are supported by an experienced coach

While you’re working hard on all those activities and putting an effort in all the tasks that are assigned to you, you’re not always aware of all the learning that happens in the background. But it’s important that you acknowledge it and that you’re able to convert it in words and facts when you face a recruiter or are discussing a promotion with your boss.

You also might have your ups and downs and obviously might find some projects more challenging to manage than others. You might be in the middle of a relocation yourself, or you might come to clash with cultural aspects of your environment that you find hard to cope with.

Among the benefits of an internship at GPT, the par excellence benefit if you ask me, is the coaching you receive from Coach Angie. Having her as a supervisor throughout the six months spent at GPT  was already a blessing and an opportunity for growth that I will always be thankful for. Having her as a personal coach was an emotional and eye-opener experience that made me more aware of who I am, what I need and how I can achieve it. I especially took to heart her charisma and down-to-earth approach.

As I anticipated, these are not the only aspects I praise with regards to my internship at GPT. In fact, the list is still long and if you’re curious to know more about it you can reach out to me personally and I’d be happy to give you more insights.

In a sentence, the experience made me ready to enter the job market with a certain awareness, strengthened competencies and a more well-rounded profile for a junior professional like me.

 

 

Sara
Sara Micacchioni

About the Author

Sara Micacchioni is currently working in the customer care sector where she gets the chance to continue improving her skills as a people’s person in four different languages. She also works as a freelancer in digital marketing for a small start-up specialized in unbiased recruiting and diversity and inclusion projects. As a graduate in Intercultural Management, those are, in fact, topics that Sara keeps close to her heart.

In the past, she also carried out several short-term and long-term voluntary work projects in Europe and South America.

Sara lived, studied, and worked in seven European countries and speaks four foreign languages. She considers herself an interculturalist with a real passion for globetrotting. In her mission to travel the world, she has now ticked off 30 countries globally.

Connect with Sara on LinkedIn

Angie

In 2018 I wrote an article called “Digitizing Your Intercultural Coaching Practice – Ten Steps to a Digital, Global Coaching Practice” which was published in in the SIETAR Europa Journal. Since the publication, I have made further progress and hope to be able to answer your questions on how to deliver digital, intercultural coaching and what it actually means for your business model as a coach, trainer or consultant. Many of the lessons learned work for consulting as well. You probably don’t know this but I spend a large junk of my week working as a Global Mobility Project Manager inside companies. Due to the Pandemic I currently work from home and only go to the client when it is absolutely necessary. Our living room has been converted into a spaceship that could easily compete with the Millenium Falcon. We divided the space in three sections: Eat, Work, Play. Who would have thought that I could convert my “practice” into a fully digital operation in just two years. The only issue I am still struggling with today is that I am using the printer too much. 

Most executive and business coaches I know prefer to work face-to-face with their clients. This is usually possible because classical coaching happens within the same city and like with a therapist a client builds a relationship with a coach over a relatively short period of time to follow certain goals. However, a lot of coaches are passed on between clients based on good old word of mouth. It’s not really a topic you openly write a review about on LinkedIn. Hence, I find it hard to ask my clients to write an honest review. I feel it breaches our confidentiality agreement. 

Digital Intercultural Coaching still is new in the Swiss market. I’ve been running a coaching practice since 2012. My clients are all international and they are all busy global people.

In the early days of my business, I used to travel to a client in Basel for two hours for a 1.5-hour coaching session. I sometimes coached up to 15 clients in one week. That was the maximum I could manage with a good distribution of hours, without exhausting myself completely and with a good quality for the clients. Despite having a 60-hour workweek my income had dropped to one-third of what I had made as a Global Mobility Leader earlier. I know that you have to accept a loss of income in your first two years as a founder but I was not making enough money to survive. I am the breadwinner in the family and Zurich is one of the most expensive cities in the world. The cost of running a physical practice was eating up a lot of the earnings so in 2018 together with my wise accountant we decided to digitalize as much as possible.

In addition to corporate seminars, I offer a job search support group through HireMeExpress and the one-week RockMeRetreat. (Before Corona this was all possible offline, now we needed to reconsider and we offer many programs online via Zoom as well.)

If you want to build a coaching model with potential to scale you need to adopt digital practices in order to serve more clients in a shorter time frame. I had experimented with Skype coaching and other online methods already and I figured out that a lot of my methods would work online too.

The 10-Step Plan to a sustainable Digital, Global Coaching Practice

Step 1: Understand Your Ideal Client

You are not in business for yourself. If you don’t work with a client as in a person who is willing to pay for your services you probably have a hobby. Before you think about your positioning in the market, you should know what your ideal client looks like and how she or he lives and works. It’s a good idea to write a story about your ideal client.

Step 2: Have a Profile on LinkedIn

You need to have an authentic online presence. Even if you work as a freelancer you need to be able to show your qualification and approach online, you need to be able to connect with clients and potential colleagues online. At a minimum you should have a good and solid LinkedIn profile. We have several articles on how to improve this and LinkedIn has courses on it as well. 

Step 3: Own a Mobile-Friendly Website

If your website dates back to 1990 and is not mobile-friendly you should invest in making it mobile friendly. You could easily have a WordPress or google site without investing a lot of money.

Step 4: Work from Home

One advantage of a digital coaching practice is that your practice becomes location-independent. If you now think that you can work from coffee shops and the beach I would say that yes, in principle that is possible. You will still want to take calls from clients but you might be able to have those during specific hours of the day when you are in a disturbance-free area.

If you can work from home without feeling distracted this is your chance to move to the mountain hut you had dreamed about. However, in my experience, you can get lonely quite easily. I prefer to work in the city of Zurich so I can engage in offline networking and still offer physical meetings with my clients when they are close to my office.

You will need a reliable Internet connection in order to hold Skype or Zoom calls. It’s worthwhile to invest in good headsets and a comfortable office chair.

Step 5: Work with an Email Marketing Provider

It took me a long time to figure out the best tools and media for sharing my messages with my clients and readers. I read a lot of blogs and reports and I curate content and events for my readers. They spend time reading interesting posts or watching relevant videos instead of digging through the social media circus. I always enjoyed sharing interesting content and now I use this skill professionally. 

It’s important to understand that despite social media marketing you still need to build an email list with your own clients and prospects. I recommend a two-list approach. One list is for everyone who is vaguely interested in what you do. This is the where you let people join when they sign up on your website for free. In my view, it is mandatory that you have such a sign-up option. In WordPress, you could start with Magic Action Box for example.

You should also have a list of paying clients. This list is important for your targeted marketing campaigns. It’s also possible to “segment” lists if you have several programs to advertise.

Step 6: Invest in tech and your user platform

We developed our own web application called RockMeApp so we could run sessions without the use of paper and in parallel to an online session. Clients can enter their coaching targets and I can follow their weekly progress. There are platforms out there offering similar options but you can obviously not influence their layout and design. If you are just starting you might want to work as a sub-provider first and invest in your own technology later, when you have a better understanding what is out there.

Step 7: Focus on Selected Social Media Channels

I could spend all day on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Youtube. So, I have hired a DIGITAL MEDIA MANAGER to help me. The main reason is that I want to focus on writing content and creating rather than sharing and discussing. With good organization I believe you can spend less than two hours a day on social media.

My advice is that you focus on the channel that speaks to your ideal client the most. I assume that most of my clients hang out on LinkedIn and this platform also serves for connecting clients and contacts with each other. Also, I often find inspiring articles there by following the hashtags I work with. 

Step 8: Organize with a Shared Cloud Drive and Master Sheets

One of the challenges of today is that we all share everything. It is more difficult to find what you need especially if the documents are not tagged correctly. I use a system where I try to sort all my work according to event date because I have a lot of events. I also use names and tags on my documents.

As a shared drive, I work with Google Drive because it allows me to share work with my global, virtual team without having to send emails back and forth. It also works with corporate clients if they use Google Drive. In order to keep overviews of projects and tasks, I developed very simple master sheets in Google Sheets. I like to use sheets as I can post a link (URL) to the relevant document or website there.

We are also using SLACK for our team to message each other and keep track of progress. However, for me (probably because I am Gen X) a simple spreadsheet is a lot easier to work with.

Step 9: Clarify your Purpose and Pivot

One of my main enjoyments in having my own company next to working with incredible Expats, Expat Spouses and Global Mobility Managers is the fact that I have the time and capacity to write and edit. I have been pretty good at maintaining a weekly blog called the “Global People Club Sandwich”. I regularly get requests for guest posts and together with collaborators my company has published two workbooks in different formats and editions. A third workbook “The Global Rockstar Workbook” is in the making.

I am considering a pivot for Global People Transitions into a publishing company, which will develop digital tools for global people in intercultural transitions. However, at the moment I still have a lot to do to fulfil my mission to “bring the Human Touch back into Global Mobility”. Hence, the publishing company probably has to remain a side business in 2021 as well.

Step 10: Use Paper as a Strategy

As mentioned my final step to full digitalisation will be to reduce all the paper in the office. In order to do that, I do not allow myself a large quantity of printing paper in the office. I try to have flyers and seminar presentations and folders printed by professional printing companies in order to be more environmentally conscious.

One of the issues is that I seem to need paper to remember information better. So now I use paper as a strategy, for example, to write “morning pages” or “have-done-lists”. I use paper to write my coaching notes.

To avoid printing, I use “print to .pdf” as a default on my printer and I work on a big screen in my home office so I can reduce the necessity to print.

I have noticed that if I cannot read a document online it might be because they were formatted for print. In that case, it helps to go back to the original source and check if the same article has an online version.

Kind regards

Angie Weinberger

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