Glad to be interviewed for CIPD magazine. You can find the article on page 30.
Thanks to Vicki.
– How important is face-to-face networking in the Middle East? Does it happen often or not often, for example?
Vital! Business here is built on personal relationships; if you don’t know your client you won’t do business! It happens constantly, both via formal means (i.e. networking events) and also informally, by simply talking & getting to know potential business partners.
– Is there anything you can prepare before attending a function/event where you can network?
I think the same applies as elsewhere in the world. Check the delegate list & identify whom you’d like to meet; connect on LinkedIn etc.
– How do you approach the situation in the Middle East generally? Can you just go up to anyone and introduce yourself, for example?
The business community here is extremely international, so global norms apply and people tend to be very open to connecting and growing their networks. If you are trying to meet a very senior VIP, a member of the royal family for example, then you would need to engage with the right protocol channels in order to gain access.
– Are there any big etiquette dos and don’ts that you should remember?
In general, being patient and allowing the conversation to develop down non-business channels (sports, families, holidays etc.) rather than cutting straight to business talk can be a challenge. As a man, the biggest must be waiting for an Arab/muslim lady to extend her had to you first in order to shake hands, rather than initiating it yourself.
– How can you politely leave the conversation? Is it okay to give a business card or ask for one?
Business card exchange is fine / expected. Ending a discussion can be done quite openly & honestly with a “it was nice to meet you” rather than trying to find a pretence to move on.
– Is it okay to follow up after you have met someone at an event?
Yes & expected too.
– Do you have any other tips for successful networking in the Middle East?
Take your time and go with the flow. Don’t be too English about expecting defined outcomes. Expect to do a lot of talking and multiple meetings before progressing with commercial developments.