Success factors for intercultural experts in a digital world

Nov 26, 2015  · by  · 1

Digital for intercultural professionals

Topics: Technology

Look on any interculturalist’s Kindle (or Kobo or other e-reader or even bookshelf) and you are likely to find the book “Getting to Yes”. It’s a classic of negotiation and conflict resolution and contains useful techniques that can work across many cultures. I say “yes” a lot. I like the word. It’s positive, affirmative, consensual. Although you might be surprised that there is no clear translation of “Yes” in some cultures (Finnish, Irish, Japanese, Chinese), and many languages have variants on “yes” which have more nuanced meanings

The harder challenge for me is Getting to “No”. I like to say yes to my clients, to my team, to my friends and family. It means I am constantly busy and starting new projects.

However, there is one big benefit saying yes in business and as an intercultural specialist. It has kept me involved with some of the forefront technologies of our digital world.

Intercultural trainers saying yes to digital

Intercultural skills app for students

We’ve been working on mobile app development (check out our, on websites, on  email marketing, data insights and virtual collaboration to support our intercultural business. And for many years we’ve been working with Argonaut as our e-learning platform. I’ve been an Argonaut cross-cultural correspondent, one of the intercultural management experts contributing content to the Argonaut system for many years and with great joy.

All this digital activity has added strongly to my business – sometimes through painful lessons but mostly through direct successes. So here are my top success factors for intercultural management professionals and anyone interested in developing a career in intercultural training.

Cross-cultural trainer success factors for digital business

Social media for interculturalists
Social media for interculturalists
  • Have no fear of failure – Be courageous about adopting new technologies. What’s the worst that can happen? As long as you are not posting content online which you’ll regret forever, every experience will be an opportunity to learn.
  • Try what’s already out there – Our intercultural management field is rich with websites, apps, e-learning, forums, tools, social media channels. Google them and start using the ones that fit your business.
  • Google yourself – Consider your own profile and how customers find you. When customers Google my name, I’m listed thanks to my own website and also the Argonaut site and via other websites where I’ve got involved. Use Baidu and Yandex if you work with Chinese and Russian customers.
  • Connect with online communities – Have you joined the intercultural professionals on LinkedIn, Facebook, around certain Twitter hashtags and other mailing lists?
  • Use your customers’ technologies – Take every opportunity to learn from the amazing technologies of your customers. Spend time to become an expert if you can – it shows. Video conferencing, webinars, collaboration tools, file-sharing and more.
  • Play games – your customers are busy and there is a lot of (social) media competing for their attention. It’s not enough that your topics are important. You also need to package them into powerful experiences which amaze, delight, provoke, amuse or entertain. Get familiar with gamification. You can start by playing games yourself!
  • Say no and stop – Don’t continue with every long-established habit or traditional method. You cannot do everything! Have you tried running training with zero print-offs? Coaching via Skype? Keeping training participant lists and managing customer groups in an e-learning platform instead of manual records and email? When you adopt a new way of working, try to also quit an old one.

Adopting these success factors can be a bit challenging at first, but for sure these will help you to be successful (and maybe you could learn to say “no”!).

Success factors for intercultural experts
Nannette Ripmeester offers ideas for developing intercultural careers

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At ELM we invest in developing our own tech skills so that we can better develop the competences of our customers. Last year alone saw us build and release an educational gamification app! Check out the blog post of our Founder Nannette Ripmeester on our long-term partner’s site, the intercultural e-learning provider Argonaut: “Success factors for intercultural experts in a digital world”.