The growing international audience that many associations experienced during the pandemic needs more attention to stick around. Fortunately, many leaders have already laid the groundwork for this.
Associations are increasingly ready to pursue more global efforts after the pandemic, now that many of them have found a larger audience. But, as I wrote last month, a recent Factum Global study showed that these efforts can easily slow down. While more global customers and potential members have arrived at your doorstep through virtual events, it will take more than an online conference to bring them more fully into the fold.
In a webinar last week, three experts from international associations discussed some of the keys to this increased engagement. The event, “Add value by leading with a global mindsetDiscussed various skills leaders will need to enhance their international engagement. Generally speaking, these fall into three categories. The first, intellectual capital, refers to your association’s knowledge of new markets. The second, psychological capital, concerns your willingness to take risks.
Diplomacy is demonstrated by the comfort we have available to strike up a conversation.
The third, social capital, can be the trickiest, but also perhaps the most encouraging for those who are cautious about going global. Sirin Köprücü, director of consultancy firm StrategicStraits and one of the speakers, pointed out that much of what global associations do is about relationship building and empathy, which they practice (hopefully -le) already at national level. “All leaders must be attentive when exerting influence, focus more on needs than wants, gain a thorough understanding of local cultures and needs also with regard to national security issues, and negotiate with a common awareness, positive intention and problem solving, ”she said.
Sylvia Gonner, CAE, founder and director of globalization consultancy CultureWiz, noted that association leaders in the United States have already laid the groundwork for this work through their diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. . And while DCI’s needs are different in the United States than elsewhere, the practice of a thorough understanding of different cultures may be widely applicable.
“Diplomacy manifests itself in the comfort we have to strike up a conversation with someone from another culture whom we do not know, in our empathy, our listening skills,” she said during the webinar. “People all over the world have very different ways of expressing their disagreement: some have very open and vocal ways, others are very subtle. The diplomat will learn to integrate these differences, bring people together on common ground and foster collaboration.
Of course, globalization is not exclusively an effort of soft skills. This requires market research and often carefully negotiated partnerships with experts or organizations in the country. But this work is closely linked to the diplomatic temperament that strong leaders have already developed. Guilherme Lopes, Executive Director of the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading, spoke during the webinar about the challenge and impact of working with international boards. “It’s like running a mini United Nations meeting,” he said. “It’s not easy to deal with cultural differences, diversity and different personalities. Usually those who are fluent in English tend to dominate the meeting. So as a staff liaison, as the glue of boards and committees, it’s our responsibility to connect with everyone to make sure everyone feels in their place.
Many associations are cautious about growth right now – the largest proportion of Factum Global respondents said international growth will be stable in 2021. There are good reasons to be cautious. But if what’s holding you back is worrying about building the necessary relationships, you might already be further along than you think.
What has been your experience engaging with new global audiences? Share your experiences in the comments.