Benefits of Cross-cultural Exchanges
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Article reprinted with permission from Crain's Cleveland Business.
Young leaders can reap benefits from cross-cultural exchanges
It’s exciting to make a new professional connection. I’m always intrigued when I receive a LinkedIn notification from a new person who wants to connect with me. Do we work in a similar field, have related interests, or live in the same city? But what can be even more interesting is making a new connection with someone from a different country. The exchange of ideas can be invaluable.
It may seem difficult to network with someone who doesn’t know much English, but when discussing something that you’re passionate about – whether it’s marketing, small business goals, or technology – language should never be a barrier.
Since I started working at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland almost four years ago, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and connect with lots of young adults visiting from places like Israel and Russia. While in Cleveland, they spend about one week touring some of our city’s hot spots and learning from local community experts. They’re able to take ideas back to their hometown to build a better life for their own community.
It’s amazing to meet fellow young professionals who may live thousands of miles away but share common goals, visions and aspirations. It’s important to make the most of these interactions. When participating in a cross-cultural exchange, remember these tips:
Make the most of your experience
You might have limited time with your new acquaintances, so use it wisely. Come prepared with any resources you can share or questions you may have. Also take the time to understand their professional challenges; sometimes the solutions we may think are blasé are considered out of the box for people from a different country. It’s also a great opportunity to learn a few new words in a different language.
Sometimes there’s so much programming and serious discussion during a jam-packed visit that it may be hard to get away and let your hair down a little. It’s always great to have a “night out” to socialize in a more casual way; invite them out to a local brewery or bar for less “business talk.”
Stay in touch
Just because your new connection lives in a different country doesn’t mean you have to stop communicating with one another. Become one another’s best resource by staying in touch through email or on LinkedIn, Facebook and WhatsApp. Keep each other in the loop about your professional accomplishments or challenges.
It can be a breath of fresh air to take part in an exchange of ideas with fellow young professionals from places different than your own. By taking part, you’ll walk away with new ideas, new resources and a new friend.
Rebecca Golsky is the manager of communications and public relations at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.