Conducting business in an Islamic country during the holy month of Ramadan can be a challenge. But it is a challenge that can be overcome with proper planning and execution. As an aspiring executive expat, you can even use this Ramadan (5 June to 5 July) to enhance your professional standing or strengthen your business relationships. Here’s how:
What are your goals?
The most pivotal component of your networking undertaking will be in fully recognizing your circumstances as well as setting realistic expectations for yourself. A common error of many people networking is that they set unrealistic goals to strive for. These people go into their network expecting to get an immediate job offer or a tangible result. This occurrence, however, rarely comes to fruition. And the prospects for success are diminished even further during Ramadan.
The primary goal when networking during Ramadan should be to make yourself visible to important Middle Eastern contacts. You cannot considered for executive opportunities if people do not know who you are or are aware of what you can provide for them professionally or personally. Being on their radar is the building block that all other networking objectives must begin from.
If you have successfully accomplished this initial goal of gaining visibility, the next objective should be to strengthen the relationship. You need to develop authentic, rooted relationships with your professional contacts before you can even consider asking them for a favor, or expecting them to assist you in your executive pursuits. Building trust is essential in this phase.
Once a solid relationship is shaped, you must do everything in your power to maintain this relationship. This means staying in regular contact with those you have established relationships with. This is simply conducted through phone calls and e-mails. However, it is also important to have interpersonal communication every now and then, to truly seal these bonds.
How to achieve them?
The best networkers know that the strongest relationships are those where connections are built on more than business. People build better connections when they share similarities and overlapping areas of interest. This may be a shared passion for football or for jazz music. Whatever you happen to share with your contact, try to initiate a non-business activity with them. Treat this experience as if you are trying to build a personal friendship rather than a professional activity.
Tools to use
Social media can be a fantastic tool to use, even in these interpersonal engagements. On many occasions professionals give a glimpse into their private lives and favoritisms online, even if they don’t necessarily intend to. For instance, if a potential contact’s LinkedIn page makes a reference to their volunteer efforts with a cricket club, it is beyond a reasonable doubt that they may share your passion in the sport.
Similarly, if their Facebook profile has a stream of articles from the same media source, this is a strong indication that they have an interest in the general subjects of the writing. Use these subtle hints to plan for conversations and potential non-business activities.
Local events, festivals and activities are also huge opportunities to meet and greet with your professional colleagues. Local event calendars can provide a great resource to select great venues and activities that can match your shared interests and personalities.
Make sure you’re ready to take your career to CEO level and succeed. Sign up to the CI Executive Career Management program and get access to a Career Coach to guide and coach you through your journey to board level. Also don’t forget to keep a lookout for the top roles that become available in emerging markets.