I was pleased to stand along with colleagues from 42 different cultures presenting their research at this year’s International Association for Intercultural Communication (IAICS) conference. It was my honor to present my research paper, Exploring Organizational Use of Social Media Marketing: A Global Perspective. I appreciate the support from Dr. Carl Zangerl and the Northeastern University Alumni Relations Office project. The data from my study was collected from 17 different cultures.
This seems to be the ‘Era of Networking.’ Whether the purpose is job hunting, recruiting, or exploring shared interests, networking is often the key to to finding a good connection. Over the past couple of years, I have been placing more focus on my network. Not just adding names, but developing relationships with those whom I add to my network. With the launching of our new Cross-Cultural Communication concentration and graduate certificate, I have also become more aware of the influence cross-cultural communication has in networking.
In a previous posting, I noted the importance of participating in conferences for self-development and networking. Upon reflection, I would like to also share how employing cross-cultural communication can generate amazing networking opportunities. First, what do I mean by the term ‘cross-cultural communication’? Being open to conversations with people who might be different from oneself, and being genuinely curious about other’s cultures. The following three examples highlight the benefits of building a global network.
In 2014, while I was participating at the International Transformational Learning Conference at Columbia University, there was a partnering activity during the opening session. I happened to be sitting in the back row with one other person, whom I’ll refer to as KL. Despite our cultural differences, we had a wonderful conversation about our current career and research paths. Since KL lives in Hong Kong, and I reside in Greater Boston, we didn’t think our paths would cross, but we decided to stay in touch anyway. As it turned out, I had the opportunity to teach in a Northeastern program in Vietnam in 2015 and was able to visit KL in Hong Kong. The outcome of our cross-cultural networking was an intergenerational research project in collaboration with a business owner in Vietnam — a project we jointly presented at the International Transformational Learning Conference in 2016.
This pattern repeated itself at a conference last year. While attending the June 2016 International Communication Association in Japan, I engaged in conversation with another attendee, ABR, who happened to be sitting alone during a lunch break. I learned that ABR was working on an academic integrity project with her university in Australia — a topic I’m also interested in. As newcomers to Japan, we enjoyed investigating the local sights and discussing shared research interests. As fate would have it, I visited Australia in September and ended up connecting with ABR in her hometown. As a result, we’re considering several areas for future collaboration.
Over time, I’ve become more intentional in the networking process. For example, while participating in a June 2017 Global Studies Conference in Singapore, I listened to a global mobility presentation by MC. After her presentation, I introduced myself and found that we had much in common. When I mentioned that I’d be traveling to India in August, MC invited me to be a guest lecturer at her university while visiting her in Jodhpur. Another connection, another cross-cultural relationship, another opportunity to collaborate.
In closing, I recognize that my personality is open to adventure. Yet, I will disclose that I am an introvert by nature and pseudo-extrovert by practice. Hence, I would suggest that the examples I provided are more about an interest in communicating with others through a cross-cultural lens, rather than a function of personality. The strategy I employed was one being open to sharing with people from very different cultural backgrounds. There can be a risk in this kind of networking; not all conversations will end up with a strong connection. But remember the old adage: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Posted by Patty Goodman, Ed.D., Faculty
Why were professional conferences developed? My guess is as a means of efficiently delivering professional development to a large group of people at once. It was a one-stop shop for confirming regulations, gathering new knowledge, gaining motivation, and meeting like-minded people. In our information-rich society, we can click a button to gather data, learn tidbits, and communicate with people across the globe. Has this surge of information and social media changed the image of conferences? Is attending conferences a thing of the past?
If I was asked last year, do you plan on attending a conference this year? I would likely have said, I don’t have time. However, I ended up attending five. Yes, five conferences within six months! I do not share this to boast, but am truly shocked myself. Why would I attend so many and was there value? I should provide a bit of explanation. One was associated to a presentation and another was a result of being part of the planning committee. This still leaves three, which does seem like a high number of conferences to attend. Yet, I will tell you that I would do it all again! Below are some visual takeaways.
All of the conferences that I invested my time and resources were associated with different parts of my personal and career development. Although so much information is available at the touch of a button, I don’t make the time or space to focus on it. Do you?
In particular, I was enriched by attending a professional conference with engaging topics. I was stretched by participating in the planning of our college faculty development conference. Moreover, I was fulfilled from attending an empowerment conference and an alumni conference.
Personally, I found there is a difference in sharing a space with others, engaging in conversation, and being outside of my comfort zone. Honestly, I did not gain new knowledge, but I gathered many amazing stories and developed new connections. Considering the importance of a strong network, I would say I have been able to develop a deeper network. This in turn offers opportunities to build deeper relationships with people having shared interests.
Below are some links to communication related conferences in order of career focus:
- International Business Communication Association
- International Communication Association
- Association of Talent Development
- Conal (a website that links international conferences by topic area)
So I ask you, have you been to a professional conference lately? If you have found a good conference, please share the conference name in the comments. If your answer is no, consider finding one that connects with your personal or career goals. You might be surprised how a conference colleague might become part of your inner-circle.
Posted by Patty Goodman, Ed.D., Faculty