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The Do’s and Don’ts of Online Cross-Cultural Conversations

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Cindy Fauth

RISMEDIA, May 24, 2011—Knowing where to meet potential buyers and sellers online is only half the battle. Once you’ve identified the social networks that fit your global objectives, the next challenge is tapping into the business-building potential of these networks with effective communications.

Social networking can be an excellent tool for meeting new people and creating new opportunities far from your local market. That said, cross-cultural blunders are easy enough to commit in face-to-face settings. Shift those conversations to a social network—where proper online etiquette poses new challenges and you cannot read non-verbal communications—and it is even easier to run into trouble.

In the U.S., for example, it is considered quite normal to inquire about someone’s children, or where they reside, or other personal details. In our minds, this is just a common way to make conversation and demonstrate that we’re interested in another person.

But such personal questions can be quite off-putting to someone from another country. Una Coleman, an international strategy and marketing consultant from Ireland who blogs on this topic encourages cross-cultural marketers to “learn what are ‘safe’ questions to ask in another culture. Many cultures don’t get into really personal questions when they first meet.”

Anyone who has already taken the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) training understands that sticking to safe questions is just one important consideration in cross-cultural communications. But there are many other considerations too, especially applied to social media.

Err on the Side of Professionalism
Sites like Facebook tend to be very casual. But if you are using it or other social networks to conduct business—especially with global clients—it’s a good idea to assume a slightly more formal tone. “Be a reserved version of yourself,” suggests Coleman.

Something as simple as how you address someone could be important. Here in the U.S., for example, business is frequently conducted on a first-name basis. But in other cultures, referring to someone by their first name too soon can appear pushy. Do your homework and read other conversations.

For more on this topic, read the June issue of Global Perspectives, the newsletter from NAR Global.

Professional Social Networks
Connect with other like-minded professionals on these NAR social networking sites:
NAR International REALTOR® Members
Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) Network
NAR’s Resort and Second Home Specialists

Cindy Fauth is the Global Marketing Manager, National Association of REALTORS®

For more information visit www.realtor.org.

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