I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to support many professionals and students as they embark and improve on their professional networking. It’s the one thing we know we “should” do but it’s one of the most challenging things to actually do. Trust me. I know. I still have to work at it. I still have to “psych” myself to engage in it. On a few occasions, I’ve skipped the “networking” part of a conference, because I just wasn’t up to being “on” that day. So, I am a practitioner, still practicing.
Whenever we arrive at a new opportunity, whether it’s a new job, a new school or a new life situation, we all hope for the best in our new chapter. Yet, at the very same time, we feel understandable anxiety in this place of the unknown. We have leapt, but how will we land? This dance to maneuver between hopefulness and doubt, elation and terror is the necessary path through any new experience.
Speaking up starts with a state of mind that believes what we have to say, matters. Believe that. It may take practice, perhaps a lot of practice before you feel more comfortable. That’s ok…Instead of berating yourself, congratulate yourself on your courage. Keep giving yourself positive reinforcements…
The recent media focus on Anne Marie Slaughters article, “Having It All”, and the appointment of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer shows the great strides yet to be made on truly leveraging and accepting the immense talents of powerful executive women in America.
Asian professionals are perceived by employers to be highly productive because of their strong intellectual capital, strong work ethic and reliability. But they are usually not on the “top of the list” for management position considerations due to a belief that Asian professionals lack leadership skills. But these “leadership skills” are not inborn traits, they are culturally-based behaviors and they are learnable. Employers have the opportunity to improve the ROA of these highly productive professionals.
As I’ve been touring the historical sites of Beijing (the Great Wall, the Summer Palace, the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven) and driving through the streets of today’s Beijing, I have seen first hand how our cultural history affects how we think, feel and act today. My work allows me the privilege to help international students acculturate to the US culture as well as assist Asian-Americans in developing visibility in their professions. I’ve always known that culture deeply influences how we are. But this trip has viscerally underscored how pivotal culture is. Culture is like the air we breathe. It’s in our cells. It occupies us.
Time and again, when I work with cross-cultural individuals, especially non-Americans, the issue of team dynamics emerges. Many note Americans can leave others out of the conversation and decision-making. Especially for those from cultures that are group-oriented and less individualistic, there is a befuddlement about how Americans, especially American men, will try to “take over” the conversations and sway the team toward his perspective without really gauging where the rest of the team is…
As I teach many talented international individuals about American job search networking — what it is and how it works — most quickly understand why they need to do it. But doing it? Going out and doing it? It just feels wrong to be so direct and aggressive. The answer to reaching out? Understand that in the American culture, such interactions are expected. So, give yourself permission to go out there and and do the ask.
Meryl Streep is a heroine of mine, who symbolizes elegance, wisdom, tenacity, conviction, passion and freedom. Here are some of her quotes from imdb.com that evoke contemplation about the contours of leading our lives, especially as a strong, talented and self-knowing woman.
Some have asked me how I do such different kinds of coaching, from job search, to life transition, to executive coaching, expecting they are so different. Yet for me, there is a strong link. That commonality is in defining and owning our story. It’s usually right there in front of us, but it can be very elusive for us to capture…