In Chapter 7 of 16, social entrepreneur and technology consultant Michael Olsen shares how to best build cross-cultural professional relationships. First, Olsen highlights shared goals. Second, he recommends at minimum one in-person introduction. After forming his non-profit Kilifi Kids in 2006, Olsen found an in-person visit to meet with the Kenyan project team in 2007 proved valuable building relationships and improving communication.
>>Erik: What do you find are the most important ingredients to build sustainable professional relationships across cultures? >>Michael: Realizing that you’re starting at the same place. You all want to help people. They want to help people. It takes a lot of work, but everyone is working toward the same goal. So, having that same goal is very important. Second off, seeing people at least once, building that relationship is very important. So if you can meet the people, if you can… the Internet is great. Video conferencing, Skype, all of this great, but without actually meeting the people, the relationship is not going to be as rich and it’s not going to be as strong. So, for us and Kilifi Kids, we went in 2007. That was really a trip of lifetime for us and it really built the organization. You know, we’re here three years later and we’re trying to expand it because we went in 2007, because we know the people involved. That was really the key for us. And then just keeping at it. You’re going to send some emails and they might now be responded to, but just keeping at it and just keeping patient and realizing that everyone is on the same team.