Sep. 22: Where are the Deals? Private Equity and Venture Capital Funds' Best Practices in Deal Origination

I hope you can join us on Sep. 22 evening  in New York for a presentation on “Where are the Deals?  Private Equity and Venture Capital Funds’ Best Practices in Deal Origination “.  We’ll be discussing preliminary findings from a white paper we’re writing on this topic.  I’d like to thank our hosts, the Columbia Business School Alumni Club of New York .

Here’s the ad:

The quality of the deals you source is one of the greatest drivers of your success as an investor. What are you doing to improve your deal flow?

David Teten will discuss:

  • How are you positioning yourself to become your target’s preferred investor?
  • What does research on deal-origination indicate are the primary sources of deal flow for institutional investors?
  • What are you doing to identify companies that might be interested in being approached?
  • What are the earmarks of a potential investment opportunity?
  • How are you systematically identifying industries/situations in which you may be able to create new companies, rather than find existing companies?
  • How can you use Web 2.0 tools to identify appropriate investments?
  • How do you increase your inflow of useful referrals?
  • What is the best way to make warm cold calls?

David Teten is a Managing Director of Evalueserve, the world’s largest knowledge process outsourcing company.  Founded in 2000, the company has over 2,400 employees.  Among its 1,100 clients are 6 of the top 10 investment banks and 10 of the top 15 strategy consulting firms.  David joined Evalueserve when the firm acquired his company, the Circle of Experts.  He leads Evalueserve’s services in helping institutional investors originate investments.  David was formerly CEO of Teten Executive Recruiting, which he sold to Accolo, #42 on the 2007 Inc. 500 list.  Previously, he was CEO of GoldNames, an investment bank serving the internet domain name asset class.  He worked with Bear Stearns’ Investment Banking division as a member of their technology/defense M&A team, and was a strategy consultant with Mars & Co.  David is lead author of The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online, the first book on how businesses can use online networks and other “Web 2.0” technologies to originate deals, raise capital, win new clients, recruit star employees, and market their firm.  He holds a Harvard MBA and a Yale BA, both with honors.   David is a member of the Advisory Board for Accolo, Grouply, and the Word of Mouth Marketing Association.   He is a frequent keynote speaker to finance and technology conferences

DATE
Monday, September 22nd

AGENDA
6:00 – 6:30 PM Registration
6:30 – 8:00 PM Program & Reception

PLACE
Cresa Partners

100 Park Avenue, [between 40th and 41st Street] 24th floor

PRICE
CBSAC/NY Members $25
Non-members $35
Pre-registration recommended. $10 surcharge added to day-of-event registrations
To become a member click here

REGISTRATION
To purchase tickets click here: Click here to buy tickets!!!
Space is limited and will fill up quickly.

NOTES
Reception includes bottled water, soft drinks and hot & cold hors d’oeuvres

EVENT ORGANIZERS
We are grateful to Gene Kenny and Frank Graziano (CBS ’82) of the Private Equity Committee for organizing this event

Social Network Analysis and Analysis of Stock Values

Federico Colecchia, a network researcher at ATALAB, wrote to the SOCNET mailing list: “I am looking for recent/ongoing research on application of social network analysis technologies to analysis of stock values.” (He works as researcher and R&D coordinator for development of visual intelligence software tools for multiple applications. His current focus is on drug discovery support.)

We traded emails about the use of social network analysis in the financial markets. He wrote:

“The works I know of are econophysical approaches to hierarchical
characterization of stock price evolution that have been developed by Mantegna and Stanley. I think the primary references here are:

R. Mantegna, H. E. Stanley, “An Introduction to Econophysics –
Correlations and Complexity in Finance”, Cambridge University Press, 2000
R. Mantegna (1999). “Hierarchical Structure in Financial Market”, The European Physical Journal B 11:193-7.”

He also mentioned chiresearch (contact Jonathon Mote, Center for Innovation, University of Maryland) and Francis Narin’s work on social network analysis-based methodologies for patent analysis, with a focus on identification of companies in which to invest.

Other ideas?

Mastermind Group Operating Manual

This is the draft operating Manual for “Junto 2.0”, a MasterMind group based in the New York tri-state area. To learn what a Mastermind group is and how it works, continue reading…


Junto 2.0
DRAFT MasterMind Group Operating Manual
by David Teten and Kaushal B. Majmudar

Outline of Manual

I. Introduction
II. Objectives
III. Benefits
IV. How Does It Work?
V. Requirements for Entry
VI. Process for Joining
VII. Meeting Rules
VIII. Suggested Meeting Structure (Subject to Modification)
IX. Sample Meeting Topics
X. How to Exit
XI. Appendix 1: Ben Franklin’s Junto Society
XII. Appendix 2: Thoughts on cooperation from George Lucas
XIII. About the Authors

I. Introduction

This is the draft operating Manual for “Junto 2.0”, a MasterMind group based in the New York tri-state area. David Teten and Kaushal B. Majmudar have been working together to create this new group.

Jo Condrill’s definition of a Mastermind group: “A master-mind group consists of [a small team of] people who work together in absolute harmony to achieve diverse goals. While these people work in harmony, they may be very different from each other. The common element is that each draws something from the others, and each contributes freely to the group. It is the focusing of each mind on a common issue that triggers thoughts not readily available to one mind. Those in the group draw upon their unique experiences and specialized knowledge to help each other. When many minds concentrate on a single point, the activity generates a power over and above the sum total of each of the individual minds. It is as though an invisible force joins the group and provides additional insight. Personally, I have used the master-mind concept with amazing results — first to advance my career and later to lead a group of volunteers to achieve remarkable results, ranking number one in a worldwide organization, Toastmasters International.” (source) Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, is widely credited with popularizing the concept. For more background, see also this summary from the “NYC Junto”: http://www.nycjunto.com/whatisjunto.htm .

Our motivations in creating this group: primarily, to accelerate our success and personal efficacy in achieving our goals. Anthony Robbins once remarked that only about 5% of his audiences actually acts to implement and benefit from any of his teachings on how to achieve personal and professional success. Many books on success emphasize the value of creating a mastermind group (perhaps using some variant of the term). We decided to actually implement the idea that so many experts recommend. We were also motivated by some bloggers who also are active in Mastermind groups, including the prolific Steve Rubel.

We are posting this manual on the Web in an attempt to gather constructive feedback and share the results of our brainstorming and collaboration with other likeminded individuals elsewhere in the world. Everything herein is a work in process, and is thereby subject to discussion and modification as we receive feedback and as other members of the group provide input or suggestions.

II. Objectives

A. “Create access to advice, counsel, and personal cooperation of a group of people who are willing to lend each other wholehearted aid in a spirit of perfect harmony” (source: Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill)
B. Share best practices and resources
C. Work on self-awareness and self-improvement
D. Create synergies and new possibilities: “No two minds ever come together without, thereby, creating a third invisible intangible force which may be likened to a third mind” (source)


III. Benefits

A. Accelerate your personal and professional progress
B. An instant and valuable support community of peers and friends
C. Give back to your peers and to society


IV. How Does It Work?

A. Monthly meeting to be held for 2 to 2.5 hours, typically over lunch or dinner
B. Absolute maximum of 10 members
C. Rotate facilitation — each month has a new leader/note-taker for accountability
D. Occasional special training and learning sessions (possibly with invited speakers)
E. Group will meet in a mutually convenient place (can alternate geographically if to makes sense to do so)
F. Diversity of group is important. Strongly prefer representatives from diversity of occupations: entrepreneur, investment banker/asset manager, policy, legal, media, operating executive at large company, physician, politician, academic. We also strongly prefer diversity across race, religion, etc.
G. Use confidential Yahoo! Group for online communication
H. Democratic Process: everything about the group is subject to scrutiny, discussion and modification by vote of majority of members in the group.


V. Requirements for Entry

A. Nominated by existing member.
B. Within driving or commuting distance of group meeting locations (in our case in the New York Tri-state area).
C. Has a compatible current level of career and professional achievements and aspirations. Some evidence of being a significant achiever in chosen field. Potential to be at the top of their chosen profession or business.
D. Thoughtful and analytical.
E. Has the desire and inspiration to make this year, decade, and life extraordinary. Has an “internal locus of control”: knows he/she is ultimately responsible for his/her own success. Ready to let their desire to be passionate about their life and work overcome their fear of change.
F. Is an active listener. Responds well to, and acts on, feedback. Open-minded.
G. Wants to win based on values; has a greater purpose. Cares about and wants to give back to their community and society
H. Realizes that cooperation is far more powerful than competition, i.e., people who are committed to helping others succeed. Has an abundance mentality. Understands and cares about what drives his/her partners’ businesses.
I. Ideally, not working in the same industry as any current member, and with a significantly different personal background than every other current member.
J. Enthusiastic about participating with intent to actively participate in the group and attend meetings in person (commits to provide advanced notice to other members in case absence is unavoidable in a given instance)


VI. Process for Joining

A. Nominated by existing member of the group
B. Submit resume and statement of personal goals (1, 5, and 20 years)
C. Interview and approval by all existing group members


VII. Meeting Rules

A. Better to give than to receive (but the law of reciprocity works – give that which you would like to get)
B. Try to emphasize solutions, encouragement and pointing out possibilities vs. focusing on problems, criticism, and pointing out hurdles
C. Share time, ideas, and best practices, but don’t dominate
D. Listen actively and intently with a desire to understand. “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” (Source: Steven Covey)
E. Maintain confidentiality. No one outside the group (not even life partners/spouses) should have access to any information about what is discussed by other members of the group, particularly the personal information of individual members. It is OK to share best practices and ideas that you have learned with others.
F. No putting down, arguing with, or directly contradicting other speakers. All discussions should be conducted “without fondness for dispute or desire of victory.” “All expressions of positiveness of opinion or direct contradiction are prohibited.”(Source: Ben Franklin).
G. Mutual respect and supportive environment to be maintained at all times


VIII. Suggested Meeting Structure (Subject to Modification)

A. Brief (one to three minutes) check-in by each member. Start with the best/most positive thing to happen since last meeting.
B. Book report by one member – distribute 1-2 page summary of book and lead discussion (15 to 20 minutes)
C. Person I admire report by one member – distribute 1-2 page summary of person’s life and what can be learned from him/her (15 to 20 minutes)
D. Update and ask. Each person must state a goal they will have accomplished by the next month’s meeting and review how they did on last month’s goal. Members can also share issues/problems they are currently grappling with and ask for help/suggestions from the group to unlock strategies, resources, etc. that might be helpful in overcoming these obstacles. (5 minutes each)
E. Free discussion time – discuss one question or topic of the day (e.g. see questions below) (30 to 40 minutes)
F. Distribute notes/highlights from the meeting to those (rare members) not in attendance, but who are committed members of this group


IX. Sample Meeting Topics

A. What is the function by which we should measure our life’s actions? Proposed formula:

Maximize: (Power * Money * Health * Spiritual Growth * Community Impact * Family Strength * Friend Strength) / Age,

subject to constraints of: ethics, law, and resources

B. Accountability Sessions (potentially a recurring topic): Each person to ask and answer the following questions: What are my most cherished goals for this coming decade, year, and month? What concrete steps have I taken to realize these goals? What are the steps that I should take, but have not yet done so to advance in the direction of my goals? Why have I not taken these steps and when do I commit to start? – group participants to ask and HONESTLY answer these questions once in a while in front of the entire group to encourage each of them to realize and take corrective action, but in a more self empowering and positive way than if it were to come in the form of critique from others.
C. Play the Game, a success technology developed by Sarano Kelley.
D. Learning about Thinking Sessions/Thinking Partners (See book: Time to Think by Nancy Klein).


X. How to Exit

A. Member no longer wants to be a part of the group (voluntary exit).
B. Member fails to attend 2 meetings in a row without advance notice AND good cause.
C. Consistent failure to participate in or contribute to the group, as noted by one or more current members.
D. If there is a consensus among more than 66% of the members that you should not remain in the group for any reason.


XI. Appendix 1: Ben Franklin’s Junto Society

Source: Ben Franklin’s biography, by Walter Isaacson

“Ben Franklin was the consummate networker. He liked to mix his civic life with his social one, and he merrily leveraged both to further his business life. This approach was displayed when he formed a club of young workingmen in the fall of 1727, shortly after his return to Philadelphia that was commonly called the Leather Apron Club and officially dubbed The Junto. Franklin’s small club was composed of enterprising tradesmen and artisans, rather than the social elite who had their own fancier gentlemen’s clubs.

At first the members went to a local tavern for their Friday evening meetings, but soon they were able to rent a house of their own. There they discussed issues of the day, debated philosophical topics, devised schemes for self-improvement, and formed a network for the furtherance of their own careers. Franklin’s Junto initially had 12 young members. Besides being amiable club mates, the Junto members often proved helpful to one another personally and professionally.

The tone Franklin set for Junto meetings was earnest. Initiates were required to stand, lay their hand on their breast and answer properly four questions: 1.) Do you have disrespect for any current member? 2.) Do you love mankind in general regardless of religion or profession? (Editor: add race, for the modern context) 3.) Do you feel people should ever be punished because of their opinions? 4.) Do you love and pursue truth for its own sake?

The pursuit of topics through soft Socratic inquiry became the preferred style of Junto meetings. Discussions were to be conducted ‘without fondness for dispute or desire of victory.’ All expressions of positiveness of opinion or direct contradiction were prohibited under small pecuniary penalties. Though the youngest member, Franklin was by dint of his intellectual charisma and conversational charm not only its founder but driving force.

The topics discussed ranged from the scientific to the metaphysical. E.g. Did importing indentured servants make America more prosperous? What is wisdom? In addition to such topics of debate, In Franklin’s original Junto, the members used as a guide a series of 24 questions, such as:
1. Have you met with anything in the author you last read, remarkable or suitable to be communicated to the Junto, particularly in history, morality, poetry, physic, travels, mechanic arts, or other parts of knowledge?
2. What new story have you lately heard agreeable for telling in conversation?
3. Hath any citizen in your knowledge failed in his business lately, and what have you heard of the cause?
4. Have you lately heard of any citizen’s thriving well, and by what means?
5. Have you lately heard how any present rich man, here or elsewhere, got his estate?
6. Do you know of any fellow citizen who has lately done a worthy action deserving praise and imitation?
7. What unhappy effects of intemperance have you lately heard; of imprudence, of passion, or of any other folly or vice? What happy effects of temperance, of prudence, of moderation, or of any other virtue?
8. Do you think of anything at present in which the Junto may be serviceable to mankind?
9. Have you any weighty affairs in hand in which you think the advice of the Junto may be of service? In what manner can the Junto, or any of them, assist of in any of your honorable designs?
10. What is the most interesting or unusual thing you have read, seen, or heard about in the last month? What is the most potentially dangerous or harmful? The most beneficial? The most significant for the people here today?
11. What can we learn from world events today? Has there been any notable failure or success, financial, political, or otherwise, from which we can gain insight and understanding?
12. Can a man or woman arrive at perfection in this life? What is the proper balance between idealism and pragmatism in our existence? (Franklin’s own question)
13. How can we judge the goodness of art, music, drama or literature?
14. Is science compatible with religion? What is the appropriate role of religion in our lives, if any?
15. What is the most important political issue facing this country in the next five years?
16. Have you lately observed any defect in the laws of your country of which it would be proper to move the legislature for an amendment?
17. Has anybody attacked your reputation lately and what can the Junto do toward securing it?
18. Is there any man whose friendship you want and which the Junto or any of them can procure for you?
19. Whom do you respect most? Why?
20. In what manner can the Junto or any of them assist you in any of your honorable designs?”
Franklin was in turn influenced by Daniel Dafoe’s essay “Friendly Societies” and John Locke’s “Rules of a Society which Met Once A Week for the Improvement of Useful Knowledge”


XII. Appendix 2: Thoughts on cooperation from George Lucas

Source: interview at Academy of Achievement at www.achievement.org, in response to the following question: “You mentioned the words “communal” and “connecting.” Your generation of the top film makers all seem to be friends. How did you band together in a field that is so competitive?”

George Lucas: “I think that’s the advantage that my generation has. When we were in film school and we were starting in the film business, the door was absolutely locked. There was a very, very high wall, and nobody got in.

All of us beggars and scroungers down at the front gate decided that if we didn’t band together, we wouldn’t survive. If one could make it, that one would help all the others make it. And we would continue to help each other. So we banded together. That’s how the cavemen figured it out. Any society starts that way.

Any society begins by realizing that together, by helping each other, you can survive better than if you fight each other and compete with each other.

Farming cultures started this way, and the first hunting cultures started this way. Everything started in city-states. We have a tendency to lose it when we forget that, as a group, we are stronger than we are as individuals. We start to think we want everything for ourselves and we don’t want to help anybody else. We want to succeed, but we don’t want anybody else to succeed, because we want to be the winner. Once you get that mentality — which is unfortunately the way a lot of the society operates — you lose. You can’t possibly win that way. Part of the reason my friends and I became successful is that we were always helping each other.

If I got a job, I would help somebody else get a job. If somebody got more successful than me, it was partly my success. My success wasn’t based on how I could push down everyone around me. My success was based on how much I could push everybody up. And eventually their success was the same way. And in the process they pushed me up, and I pushed them up, and we kept doing that, and we still do that.

Even though we all have, in essence, competing companies, if my friends succeed, then everybody succeeds. So that’s the key to it, to have everybody succeed, not to gloat over somebody else’s failure.

We continue to do that, and we do it with younger filmmakers. There’s no way of getting through any kind of endeavor without help from friends. And trying to be the number one person, ultimately, is a losing proposition. You need peers, you need people who are at the same level you are. You never know in life when you’re going to need help, and you never know who you’re going to need it from.

One of the basic motifs in fairy tales is that you find the poor and unfortunate along the side of the road, and when they beg for help, if you give it to them, you end up succeeding. If you don’t give it to them, you end up being turned into a frog or something. It’s a concept that’s been around for thousands of years. It is even more necessary today, when people are more into their own aggrandizement than they are in helping other people. I don’t think there’s anyone who’s become successful who doesn’t understand how important it is to be part of a larger community, to help other people in larger communities, to give back to the community.”


XIII. About the Authors

David Teten is CEO of Nitron Advisors, an independent research firm that provides institutional investors with access to frontline industry experts. He is coauthor of The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online, the first mass market book on online networks and social software. He runs TheVirtualHandshake.com resource site, co-writes a column for FastCompany.com, and writes a personal blog, Brain Food. David holds a Harvard MBA and a Yale BA.

Kaushal Majmudar
, JD, CFA – Kaushal is President and Portfolio Manager of The Ridgewood Group, a value oriented money management firm based in Short Hills, NJ, that runs managed accounts and hedge fund investments for individuals and institutions. Kaushal was previously an investment banker at Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers. He is co-author of “Create the Business Breakthrough You Want: Secrets and Strategies from the World’s Greatest Mentors” and is working on his second book. Kaushal holds a JD with honors from Harvard Law School and a BS from Columbia University.

Networking in the Hispanic Community

Following is the latest in our series of articles on networks in various special interest communities. I worked on these articles in connection with research that we did for the Virtual Handshake book.

Networking in the Hispanic Community

by Wendy Maldonado and David Teten

We constantly hear that effective networking is critical to building a successful career. However, the concept has come slowly to the Hispanic community, where it is largely a tool of the assimilated and the educated.

“It’s only in the last generation that Latinos have begun to rise to positions of access and influence, where they could create some semblance of networking,” says Dr. Juan Andrade, Jr., President of the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute.

The numbers back up Dr. Andrade’s assertion. According to the most recent data available, Hispanics comprise 11.1% of the U.S. workforce, and as much as 30% of the total workforce in states such as Texas and New Mexico. Still, only 4.5% of managers and 3.8% of all professionals are Hispanic.

All executives interviewed for this article possess powerful networks, but the more senior executives rely heavily on contacts within the community.

“If I were to define my power base, it would be Latino, mostly from college and the legal profession,” says California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno. “It’s a symbiotic relationship. I help them, and they help me.”

Henry Cisneros, CEO of American City Vista and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), agrees. “As HUD Secretary, I traveled to cities constantly, and my secondary job was Latino community outreach for the Clinton Administration,” he says. Today, he considers all of the people he met his friends and contacts.

In contrast, younger executives interviewed found considerable strength in diversifying their networks outside of the community.

“I make it a point to network across groups—the African American, the general industry, and the Hispanic community,” says Rosa Alonso, a senior executive and corporate consultant. “I’m involved in both worlds because in order to do my best, I need to do well in both.”

“I don’t limit my options to the Latino community,” says Maribel Schumacher, President and CEO of Tu Casa Entertainment, a Latin media management and marketing firm. “Yes, I want to leverage it. I’m very proud of my heritage and culture. But I don’t limit my dealings to Latinos.”

The success of Ms. Alonso and Ms. Schumacher mirror the findings of Dr. Donna Maria Blancero, Associate Professor at Touro University International, and Chairwoman of the Board of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs. Dr. Blancero focuses her research on Hispanic career advancement in corporate America. First, she noticed that those with more education had an increased ability to network effectively. Secondly, she noticed that insularity could hurt the potential for advancement.

“We have to make sure that our networks include non-Hispanics,” says Dr. Blancero. “If we restrict ourselves to Hispanics only, it’s nice for strengthening and preserving our culture, but we’re not tapping into the power structure of corporate America.”

However, due to the small numbers of Hispanic executives, strong connections within the community are still vital.

“My networks have been built informally, and they’ve been really influential in my career,” says Lisa Quiroz, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility at Time Warner, Inc. Her friendships with other Hispanic women have provided both job opportunities and emotional support as her career has blossomed.

As the demographics of the country continue to change, and Hispanics continue to increase numbers in managerial ranks and the boardroom, effective relationship building is as important as ever.

“As Latinos assimilate more into social and political circles, opportunities for networking will increase,” says Justice Moreno. “There is no longer just an old boys network.”

Online networking

The evolution of the Internet has also impacted the ways Latinos are connecting to one another. At first, it didn’t catch on as quickly as it did with non-Latinos.

“I don’t want to make a broad generalization,” says Ms. Alonso, “but I almost feel like our community would rather do things in person, with a handshake, a hug, or a kiss. My non-Hispanic colleagues have done a much better job of connecting online.”

Marco Davis, Director of Leadership Development at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), agrees. “The Internet may not be real or warm enough for us—we need more contact.”

Reflecting the importance of personal connection, instant messaging and the exchange of family photos are the most popular activities for Latinos online, according to America Online, Inc.

“The beauty of the Internet is that it seeks to fill the void that TV still has,” says Roberto Ramos, President of Latin Vox Communications. “There is very little enlightened English language content targeted to Latinos, with the exception of Migente.com

One of the most successful Latino online communities in the U.S., Migente is targeted to English dominant, acculturated American Hispanics. Most of its 3.1 million members across the country are in their early twenties, and use it to socialize and network with each other.

In California, the state with the largest Latino population in the country, two organizations, the Latino Professionals Network (LPN) and Muybueno.net, have leveraged the Internet for professional networking, with excellent results.

“I wanted to create an umbrella group of Latino professionals in Southern California,” says Alejandro Menchaca, the founder and President of LPN, based in Los Angeles.

After attending a number of uninteresting networking events, he thought he could do better.

“I wanted to make events fun and create a huge networking extravaganza,” he says. “Latinos desire a social component to what they do.” He ended up discovering a huge niche market, and today his events draw between 500-800 people every six weeks. Most of LPN’s membership is between the ages of 24-42.

He credits the success of LPN to two factors: timing and technology. He started LPN at a time when there was a rise in a critical mass of young Latino professionals in the region. Second, he adopted the Internet as a communication medium from the very beginning.

Unlike other organizations with older members, which would fax invitations, he relied on email to alert members to events in those early days. Today, by sending out electronic invitations and regular newsletters, he now counts over 12,000 members in the LPN network.

MuyBueno.net, another online success story, focuses on Bay Area Latino professionals. Cesar Plata, its founder and President, was originally a member of Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), but thought Latinos could benefit by networking across professions.

Partly inspired by attending First Friday networking events with African American friends of his, his idea clicked into place, and MuyBueno.net was born.

Mr. Plata notes that most of the attendees are the first in their families to attend college. Since most people did not grow up going to company parties with their parents, MuyBueno’s events give them an opportunity to hone networking skills and promote themselves in a friendly environment.

As MuyBueno.net evolves, Mr. Plata sees it becoming more mainstream. Considerable numbers of non-Latinos now attend his events, especially people who are looking to hire highly skilled Latinos or learn more about the Hispanic market.

Today, he counts over 15,000 members in his database and hosts some of the largest Latino networking events in the Bay Area. “I blow away most Chambers of Commerce with attendance,” he says.

With Migente.com, Muybueno.net and LPN as pioneers, online networking in the Latino community is becoming as inevitable as it is in the mainstream professional world.

The challenges of building a Latino rolodex

At the same time, building a Latino rolodex presents a unique set of challenges. Simply broaching the topic with Hispanic executives elicits a wide range of emotions, from pride and hope to downright exasperation.

“We are disorganized and tribalist,” says Fernando Espuelas, CEO of VOY Group.
“It’s not just about being successful as individuals. It’s about creating networks and platforms to create Hispanic talent. We don’t have a tradition of working together.”

Lisa Quiroz of Time Warner, Inc. agrees. “We are light years away from the African American community and other ethnic communities in terms of organized networking,” she says.

Unlike other affinity groups with stronger shared experiences, the sheer size and complexity of the Latino community complicates the relationship building process. Language preference, degree of acculturation, educational attainment, and economic status, along with country of origin, can create conditions for community fragmentation and infighting.

“I continue to see balkanization along lines of national identity,” says Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, President of the Recognition Group. Half Colombian and half Israeli, he has an insider’s perspective on both the Latino and the Jewish networking traditions.

“While the potential for impact in the Hispanic community is much greater, we have so many problems in the way that we network that you just don’t see in the Jewish community,” he says.

Indeed, a Cuban-American who arrived in Miami in the 1960’s, a Puerto Rican in New York, and a Mexican-American from Los Angeles are likely to view themselves as more different than alike, in spite of sharing some aspects of a Latin cultural heritage.

“I don’t think there is a Hispanic community. It’s made up of many communities,” says David Perez, CEO of Latin Force LLC, a marketing firm in New York. “There is a unique American concept that exists in the U.S. of “Latino” that doesn’t exist in Latin America or the Caribbean. We have a mixing of nationalities and an affinity around a Latin heritage, but the real segmentation in the Hispanic market is by nationality and place.”

Federico Pena, former Secretary of Transportation and Energy, and Managing Partner at Vestar Capital Partners, doesn’t discount the reality of the divisions, but he does believe that it is eroding.

“When I look at successful Latinos, I’m just proud they are Latinos,” he says. “National origin doesn’t matter. The rest of America doesn’t care. Those distinctions and concerns are less real today than they were before.”

Regardless of their perceptions on networking, those interviewed for this article expressed a deep desire to build a more cohesive Latino community, while creating access and opportunity for the younger generation.

“Why is it, given the wealth of experience and knowledge we have, are there not more Latino CEOs, board members, and members of Congress?” asks Professor Andy Hernandez, Executive Director of the 21st Century Leadership Center at St. Mary’s University. “When Latinos get into the power structure, they don’t want to look or act too Latino, or hire Latinos, because it might look bad. Bill Richardson and Henry Cisneros were exceptions to that rule.”

As the numbers have swelled and Latin culture has integrated itself into the American mainstream, a number of enterprising Latinos have seized the opportunity to create new professional organizations. The New America Alliance is one of the most recent and most powerful examples of this trend.

The brainchild of Henry Cisneros and Raul Yzaguirre, former President of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), it brings together some of the most influential Latino business leaders in the country to create economic, political, and social capital and a tradition of philanthropy in the Latino community.

“We finally had a critical mass of Latinos that had achieved status and wealth,” Mr. Yzaguirre explains. “Instead of being grant seekers, we wanted to become grantmakers. Most importantly, it was about making Wall Street, pension funds, and the SEC accountable to us. We want to control our own destiny, and present the case for investing in our community.”

With membership at $10,000 and $25,000 a pop, the New America Alliance is serious about raising the bar. It numbers well over 100 members, virtually all of whom are C-level executives.

A less formal but even more exclusive gathering is Encuentro. Modeled after Renaissance Weekend, this off-the-record annual retreat takes place between Christmas and New Year’s Day. It includes only 35 people plus their families. Attendance is by invitation only, having formed organically, and the identities of the attendees is a well-kept secret.

“It’s not about media or hype or people posturing to get in,” says one source, who asked not to be identified. “This is where Republicans and Democrats can speak to each other openly, and where they can talk about the big picture issues. It’s about leadership building and network building in a non-threatening environment.”

Elite groups like these, or locally formed professional organizations at the city or regional level, all share a desire to open the doors of access.

In this quest for integration and influence, Professor Hernandez of St. Mary’s University emphasizes the need to focus on power, and not diversity. “The focus on diversity doesn’t force you to do anything differently. As soon as the power structure changes, diversity will follow.”

As the Hispanic community continues to grow in size and influence in the U.S., its favored methods of networking continue to evolve, depending largely upon degrees of assimilation and education.

While senior executives built powerful networks with each other as they trailblazed their way to leadership positions, younger professionals are realizing the power that can be leveraged by building relationships both inside and outside the Hispanic community.

This trend may finally be the key to accessing the power and influence Hispanics have desired for so long.

Wendy Maldonado is the founder and Principal of Xochitl, a retailer of fine furniture, housewares, and artwork from Mexico, scheduled to open in autumn of 2005. Previously, she worked in cross-marketing for investment banking at Merrill Lynch, and as a management consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton. She also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Belize. She holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management, an MPA from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a BA from Yale University. She was one of Latina Magazine’s Top Ten Women of the Year of 2003.

David Teten recently completed his first book, The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online (www.TheVirtualHandshake.com), published by the American Management Association, and co-written with Scott Allen. The Virtual Handshake is the first book that explains how to find your next client, your next job, or your next business partner online. The Virtual Handshake explains how to take full advantage of blogs, virtual communities, social network sites, and other “social software”. David is CEO of Nitron Advisors, LLC (www.NitronAdvisors.com), which provides institutional investors with direct access to frontline industry experts, and Chairman of Teten Recruiting (www.Teten.com), an executive recruiting firm. He was formerly CEO of an investment bank specializing in internet domain names. He is a frequent keynote speaker to finance and technology industry conferences and at such universities as Wharton, Columbia Business School, Yale, and Princeton. David formerly worked for Bear Stearns’ technology/defense investment banking team, and was a strategy consultant with Mars & Co. He holds a Harvard MBA and a Yale BA.

South Asian Networking Groups, Face to Face and Online

In connection with research for The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online (http://thevirtualhandshake.com/order-amazon.htm), below is the next in a series of articles on networks in different special-interest communities.

South Asian Diaspora

Networking Groups and Resources

by Neha Shanbhag and David Teten

South Asian-Americans, which include people of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, and Nepali heritages, have rapidly begun to influence and excel in the business world, politics, and the arts.

South Asian Americans are one of the wealthiest and best educated communities in the United States. With a median household income of $60,093, compared with $41,110 for non-Hispanic white families, and over 67% holding advances degrees, there are few ethnic groups that have comparable income and education levels[1]. Indian-Americans and Pakistani-Americans are among the fastest growing and most successful communities of all ethnic groups in the United States.

According to a 1999 University of California, Berkeley study, at least 15% of all technology companies in Silicon Valley are Indian-run.[2] Among the more prominent South Asian-Americans in recent years are: Vinod Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems and general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; Arun Netravali, president of Bell Labs; Rajat Gupta, managing partner at McKinsey; and Indra Nooyi, current president and CFO of Pepsi Co.[3] According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the Indian American population stands at approximately 1,678,765, roughly a 106% increase over the 1990 figures.[4] “Nearly 85% have at least graduated from high school, and 58% have received a bachelor’s degree or higher. This is an impressive level of higher education, especially when compared with the twenty percent of the total population who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Of those participating in the labor force, 44% are employed in managerial and professional specialties. The mean earnings of Indian-American households in 1989 were $56,438, as compared with the mean earnings of $30,078[5] of the total U.S population.” [6]

With the emergence of South Asian-Americans in practically every aspect of American society, new networking associations targeted solely towards the South Asian communities are quickly gaining popularity. Many of these nonprofit organizations aim not only to provide a medium for networking and professional development, but also to raise political awareness, promote community service, and provide cultural enrichment opportunities.

With new social / professional groups coming into existence continuously, it can be an arduous task keeping track of the most informative and useful organizations and websites. An excellent solution to this problem is provided by GaramChai.com’s webpage, http://www.garamchai.com/desiassc.htm, which provides a comprehensive listing of the best Indian business and non-profit organizations in the US. Whether you are searching for a professional organization, social networks, or simply web-based discussions on the topics which most interest you, GaramChai.com, roughly translated to a “hot cup of tea,” provides news and information on the South Asian diaspora community. Listed below are links, contact information, and brief descriptions for a few of the leading South Asian Diaspora networking associations.

General South Asian Professional Networking Resources:

1.) The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE)

Website: www.tie.org

Focus: The Indus Entrepreneurs is a well-established South Asian-American professional association. Its primary goal is to provide career support, networking options, and access to vocational insights for South Asian professionals and entrepreneurs throughout the United States and abroad.

Number of Members: TiE currently consists of 49 chapters in nine countries with a total membership of over 8,000 individuals

CEO/Organizer: The current organizational chairman of TiE is Desh Deshpande. To contact him, e-mail tieadmin@tie.org.

Fees: An annual fee of $100 is collected to fund TiE events, as well as to sponsor professional activities and resources.

Founded: Tie was founded in 1992 in Silicon Valley. Its initial targets were people of Indian origin, but it now serves the broader South Asian and entrepreneurial community.

Description: Although “The Indus Entrepreneurs” signifies the South Asian roots of the founders, the acronym TiE has over time come to stand for something more: “talent, ideas and enterprise.”[7] A significant number of non-Indians attend their programs, and TiE has been a pioneer in organizing events in cooperation with other ethnic networking groups. TiE hosts career-building seminars, conferences, and professional workshops annually. These provide excellent opportunities for business networking, as do their mailing lists and many web resources. TiE members include entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and venture capitalists. Membership is divided into two categories: charter members and general members. Charter membership is available only by way of invitation, and is reserved for seasoned experts who are willing to serve as mentors to the up and coming generations of entrepreneurs. The general membership of TiE is open to anyone who pays the nominal dues, approximately $100 (this may vary with chapters).

2.) Indus Women Leaders

Website: www.induswomenleaders.org

Focus: Indus Women Leaders (IWL) is a national forum that develops South Asian women leaders. IWL provides South Asian women with the resources to achieve their life goals through goal setting tools, advocacy, networking, mentorship, and education[8].

CEO/Organizer: The current operations director of IWL is Hemali Dassani. For more information, e-mail info@induswomenleaders.org.

Fees: Standard membership is free of charge. Event and conference attendance charges do apply (vary from year to year.)

Founded: Indus Women Leaders (IWL) was established in 2001 in order to create a national support network addressing the many challenges female South Asian professionals face each day.

Description: Indus Women Leaders strives to empower South Asian women to become great leaders by unleashing their potential through a strong foundation of support, inspiration, and mentorship[9]. This organization is targeted towards South Asian women of all professions and of all ages; those seeking to be a mentor should have at least five years of professional experience. In addition to an extensive mailing list, IWL hosts annual networking conference, organizes mentor programs, and conducts extensive research and surveys. For more information about the organization or upcoming events, visit the IWL website or e-mail info@induswomenleaders.org.

3.) Asian American Hotel Owner’s Association (AAHOA)

Website: www.aahoa.com

Focus: AAHOA is committed to providing an interactive forum through which Asian American hotel owner’s can exchange ideas, interact, and access professional resources. They are strong proponents of anti-discriminatory measures in the hospitality industry and are continually promoting greater cultural awareness through conferences, newsletters, and hands on educational opportunities.

Number of Members: Membership currently stands at approximately 8000.

Fees: There is an annual membership fee of $100.

Founded: AAHOA was established in 1989.

Description: The single largest member-based Indian business organization in the United States, the Asian American Hotel Owner’s Association aims to eliminate the “distinct challenges that face hoteliers today, and to provide answers through advocacy and education programs which help Asians succeed.[10]” AAHOA is host to several professional events and conferences each year, all of which specifically cater to the needs of those in the hospitality industry. A unique online “toolbox” of resources, monthly publications, and periodic trade shows provide extensive information on topics of interest to South Asian Americans, and also help promote solidarity among hoteliers across the U.S. For more information about the organization or upcoming events, visit the AAHOA website or e-mail info@aahoa.com.

4.) South Asian Bar Association (SABA)

Website: www.sabadc.org

Focus: SABA is a professional networking group for lawyers and students in the legal profession of South Asian heritage, as well as a resource for attorneys across North America. The organization seeks to cultivate ties among South Asian-American lawyers, and to increase awareness and encourage resolution of issues of concern for South Asian-Americans.

Number of Members: Current membership in the South Asian Bar Association stands at several hundred, and continues to expand each day.

CEO/Organizer: The current national President and Chairman of SABA is Geeta Oberoi. She can be contacted at geetaoberoi@hotmail.com.

Fees: Standard membership is free of charge and membership in SABA is open to all South Asian involved in the legal profession, as well as students of South Asian decent currently pursuing a degree in law.

Founded: SABA was founded 2001 as the successor to the Indian-American Bar Association (IAB).

Description: SABA is a voluntary organization dedicated to furthering the professional development and advancement of South Asian-Americans involved in legal professions. It aims to provide a forum for professional networking, and development, as well as to increase awareness of the legal, political, and cultural environment of South Asia. SABA facilitates easy access to information for South Asian lawyers throughout the United States; namely through mailing lists, seminars, receptions with dignitaries, mentoring programs, and recruiting events for law students. For more information, visit the official SABA website at http://www.sabadc.org/index.html, or e-mail sabdc@sabdc.org.

5.) South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA)

Website: www.saja.org

Focus: SAJA is a professional networking group for journalists and a resource for newsrooms across North America. The organization seeks to cultivate ties among South Asian- American journalists, and to improve and expand journalistic coverage of South Asia and its diaspora.

Number of Members: Current membership in the South Asian Journalists Association is approximately 800.

CEO/Organizer: The current national President of SAJA is S. Mitra Kalita, an author and reporter at The Washington Post. She can be contacted at mitra@desiwriter.com.

Fees: Membership dues of $20 are collected annually. Full membership in SAJA is open to all South Asians involved in journalism, and to all non-South Asian journalists primarily covering topics related to South Asia and the South Asian Diaspora.

Founded: SAJA was founded in March 1994

Description: SAJA is a non-profit organization dedicated to furthering the professional development and advancement of South Asian-Americans involved in journalism, and the media. It aims to provide a conduit of information for South Asian journalists throughout the US and Canada; namely through mailing lists, job searches, career counseling, a mentoring program, and scholarship opportunities. SAJA sponsors several writing workshops and seminars each year, as well as discussion panels regarding the Indian subcontinent.

6.) South Asian Networking Association (SANA):

Website: www.sanaonline.com/

Description: SANA is a general purpose networking association aimed towards all members of the South Asian community. It is designed to provide South Asian professionals with a casual opportunity to interact, forge business ties, and develop networking relationships amongst one another. Bi-monthly happy hour events, mailing lists, and their soon to be redesigned interactive web site all provide members with an excellent opportunity to chat, share ideas, and learn more about the many achievements and innovations of the South Asian community. Be sure to check out the SANA website for more information, especially following the launch of their newly revamped website. Until then, direct your specific questions, general inquiries, and membership requests to info@sanaonline.com.

Indian Professional Networking Resources:

7.) American Association of Physicians from India (AAPI)

Website: www.aapiusa.org/aapi.nsf

Focus: The American Association of Physicians from India aims to facilitate the professional advancement and development of Indian American physicians through seminars, web-based discussions, and community outreach programs. AAPI endeavors to improve standards of patient care, to encourage and expand research efforts, and to facilitate professional and community-based activities.

Number of Members: AAPI currently consists of approximately 35,000 practicing physicians and over 10,000 medical students and residents- a total membership exceeding 45,000 individuals.

CEO/Organizer: The current national chairman for AAPI is Sharad Lakhanpal, MD. He can be contacted at slakhanpal@arthritis-dallas.com.

Fees: Annual membership dues of $75. These funds go towards sponsoring AAPI’s charitable foundations, community health columns, and continuing medical education programs.

Founded: AAPI was founded in 1984 by a small group of Indian-American physicians interested in the rise of ethnic and cultural diversity in the medical industry, as well as the radical changes taking place in health-care programs around the United States.

Description: When first formed, the American Association of Physicians from India (AAPI) envisioned “promoting professional solidarity in the pursuit of excellence in patient care, teaching and research, and bringing to American medicine the distinctive contributions from India.” [11] In the nineteen years since its founding, AAPI has worked hard to not only uphold this creed, but also to expand its vision by propagating new medical ideas and knowledge amongst members. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, AAPI serves as an umbrella organization for 100 professional associations. It is the largest ethnic medical organization in the US. AAPI sponsors and organizes several community-service initiatives annually, publishes periodic newsletters and mailing lists, and is actively involved in elevating the status and presence of Indian-American medical professionals everywhere. For more information about AAPI, visit the official website at http://www.aapiusa.org/ .

8.) American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin (ASEIO):

Website: www.aseio.org

Focus: ASEIO is an international non-profit professional organization of engineers, both students and seasoned professionals. ASEIO aspires to stimulate and supply a continuous line of knowledge pertinent to engineering and related industries. It fosters open-communication amongst members and a sense of professional solidarity and cooperation.

Number of Members: ASEIO currently includes several hundred members in each of its eleven chapters.

CEO/Organizer: The current national President is Rabindra Rout. You can contact him at rrout16@hotmail.com.

Fees: Standard membership is free of charge. Event and conference attendance charges do apply (vary from year to year.)

Founded: ASEIO was established in 1983.

Description: ASEIO provides numerous resources for engineers, architects, and technical professionals of Indian heritage. They aim to foster cooperation and an exchange of ideas and knowledge between the United States and India, as well as to facilitate practical, career, and technical development amongst its members. Each year, ASEIO sponsors numerous professional events for its members, as well as community service initiatives and public outreach programs. Global networking, career guidance, practical training, and business development, are just a few of the many issues regularly discussed and promoted by ASEIO. Besides providing a forum for networking, ASEIO is also actively engaged in providing training to its members in the areas of leadership skills; new technology, such as 6-sigma and Taguchi methods; bio sciences; and holistic approaches to engineering. ASEIO also seeks to promote/encourage engineering education among second generation Indians living in USA. Numerous scholarships are granted to graduating high school students and undergraduate and graduate students every year; and outstanding students of Indian origin are periodically recognized. In addition, picnics, seminars, and conventions are organized annually for members.

9.) Global Organization of People of Indian Origin:

Website: www.gopio.net

Focus: GOPIO aspires to not only promote the interests and well-being of people of Indian origin, but to also facilitate cooperation, collaboration, and interactions among Indian communities worldwide.

Number of Members: GOPIO currently includes several thousand members worldwide.

CEO/Organizer: The current international President of GOPIO is Dr. Thomas Abraham. For more information, e-mail gopio@optonline.net.

Fees: Membership dues of $50 are collected annually.

Founded: GOPIO was founded at the First Global Convention of People of Indian Origin in New York in 1989.

Description: GOPIO is a non-partisan organization actively involved in the expansion and development of ties amongst the global Indian community. Above all else, GOPIO endeavors to encourage interaction between communities of Indians abroad, thus laying the foundation for international cooperation and deliberation on issues pertinent to all people of Indian origin. Annual conventions, periodic publications, and a multi-purpose discussion board, are just a few of the means employed to unite Indians everywhere and foster interaction on a global scale. In addition, GOPIO provides a medium for members to mobilize intellectual and professional resources for their mutual development and advancement.[12] Networking opportunities, business contacts, and cultural heritage programs are all integral components of GOPIO’s quest to strengthen cultural ties and further the goals and ambitions of Indians everywhere. For more information about the organization or upcoming events, visit the GOPIO website or e-mail gopio@optonline.net.

10.) Indian American Leadership Initiative (IALI)

Website: www.ialipac.org

Focus: The Indian American Leadership Initiative aims to empower high caliber leaders of Indian decent by providing open access to quality political and public policy training. IALI facilitates the professional advancement and development of Indian American political candidates through leadership training, technical skill development, campaign infrastructure, and fundraising/networking support. By providing countless resources to rising Indian-American leaders, IALI endeavors to increase the political prominence of Indian-Americans throughout the U.S, and actively represent their social/political causes and issues.

Number of Members: IALI currently includes several hundred members across the U.S.

Fees: A standard membership / subscription is free of charge.

Founded: IALI was founded in the early 1990’s by a group of Indian-Americans seeking to raise political awareness, and provide a forum for rising Indian-American leaders to project their ideas and political ambitions.

Description: South Asians are among the fastest growing populations in America and as already stated, are also among the wealthiest and best-educated ethnic groups in the country according to the U.S Census. This growth and prosperity, however has not been met by high levels of Indian American electoral participation and political clout. In fact, there are currently only four Indian American state legislators nationwide and no members of Congress[13]. The Indian American Leadership Initiative (IALI), with its goal of “10 by 2010”, aims to change this seemingly troubling problem. By training and funding new political leaders, sponsoring several community- service initiatives annually, and building momentum for candidates, IALI hopes to increase the presence of Indian-American politicians everywhere, and perhaps accomplish their ultimate goal: have 10 South Asian Americans elected to Congress by the year 2010. For more information about IALI, visit the official website at http://www.ialipac.org/about.html, or e-mail info@ialipac.org.

11.) Indian American Policy Institute (IAPI)

Website: www.iapolicy.org

Focus: The Indian American Policy Institute isa nonprofit Washington, D.C. based research and educational foundation providing the intellectual framework for crafting a new vision of the United States in the 21st Century grounded in the values and experiences of the Indian-American community.”[14]

Fees: Standard membership is free of charge and membership in IAPI is open to all South Asians interested in public policy and the implementation of Indian-American ideals in U.S policy.

Founded: IAPI was recently founded in 2002 and is gradually gaining a great deal of momentum, with its membership consisting of up and coming Indian-American leaders from all fields.

Description: “The Indian-American Policy Institute was established by leading Indian Americans who recognized the importance of political involvement, the power of ideas, and the opportunity to affect US public policy.”[15] Through seminars aimed towards educating Indian- Americans about policy initiatives, publications and articles, and a forum to discuss pressing social/cultural issues, IAPI is one of the premiere organizations for Indian-American leaders from all fields. Because the organization is still in its initial stages, it is continually evolving in terms of the interactive forums and events open to members. For more information, visit the IAPI website at: http://www.iapolicy.org/content/main.asp.

12.) Network of Indian Professionals

Website: www.netip.org

Focus: The Network of Indian Professionals is an Indian-American association dedicated to advancing, connecting, as well as recognizing the accomplishments of Indian American professionals throughout the US. They sponsor several professional development, community service, cultural heritage, and scholarship programs annually.

Number of Members: The Network of Indian Professionals currently hosts members from over twenty chapters, and has a total membership of over 5,000 individuals.

Fees: Annual membership fee of $50.

Founded: NetIP was established in 1990.

Description: The network of Indian Professionals (NetIP) is among the largest national associations catering to the needs of Indian American professionals. NetIP aims to enable members to secure key connections with people around the US with similar interests and professional skills. NetIP members include successful Indian professionals working in a broad spectrum of fields: financial services, accounting, commercial and investment banking, law, medicine, and engineering, just to name a few. NetIP uses extensive mailing lists and weekly newsletters to help connect its many members for both professional and social ends. For more information about NetIP and upcoming events, visit your local chapter website, or e-mail info@netip.org.

13.) Non-Resident Indians Network ((NRI): a RYZE subdivision)

Website: nri-network.ryze.com

Focus: NRI aims to serve as a general purpose online business networking site for the Indian diaspora community. Discussion boards cover everything from preparing for an interview, to preserving Indian cultural traditions in western society, to making some of the best chicken tikka masala.

Number of Members: Membership currently stands at approximately 100.

CEO/Organizer: The NRI network is organized and maintained by Ranjit Gill. You can contact him at http://www.ryze.com/view.php?who=ranjitgill

Fees: Standard membership is free of charge.

Founded: The NRI network was founded in 2000 as a subdivision of the RYZE network.

Description: The Non-Resident Indians Network is a subdivision of Ryze, a general-purpose business networking site. Ryze is host to a plethora of diverse business networks and social/cultural platforms, the Non-Resident Indians (NRI) Network being one of these. The NRI network is aimed primarily towards members of the India Diasporas and provides worthwhile information for Indians in the US and abroad. Discussion boards provide extensive information on topics of interest to the India-American community, and provide a unique social and business platform for interested members. Basic membership to Ryze is free, and will allow you to set up a profile, explore other people’s profiles, and participate in a variety of networks.

14.) Silicon ValleyIndian Professionals Association (SIPA)

Website: www.sipa.org

Focus: The Silicon Valley Indian Professionals Association is a network of Indian-Americans specializing in the high technology sector.

Number of Members: Currently, SIPA consists of over 2,300 members from practically all professions.

Fees: Annual membership fee of $20.

Founded: SIPA was founded in 1987 in Santa Clara, California.

Description: SIPA is a nonprofit, voluntary organization. It aims to provide members with both an online forum as well as professional activities and events in order to forge contacts with one another, exchange ideas pertinent to technology and innovation, and further their own professional interests. SIPA tried to foster cooperation between the United States and India in high technology areas, as well as to facilitate professional, career, and business development amongst its members. SIPA members continuously gain new information and perspectives through an array of speaker series and informational seminars. SIPA membership includes highly qualified engineers, corporate managers, financial experts, and other professionals. Many are actively involved in the high-technology industry and hail from almost every major company in the Silicon Valley. For more information, visit the SIPA website, or e-mail contact@sipa.org.

Pakistani Professional Networking Resources:

15.) Network of Pakistani Professionals (DASTAK):

Website: www.dastak.org/

Focus: DASTAK is a nonprofit professional association aimed towards the advancement, professional development, and community/cultural involvement of members of the Pakistani community. DASTAK aspires to “create an environment conducive to professional growth, to provide networking opportunities, and to promote philanthropic activities.”[16] It fosters open-communication amongst members and a sense of professional solidarity and cooperation.

Number of Members: DASTAK currently includes several members throughout its chapters in the tri-state area.

CEO/Organizer: The current President is Ahsan Naqvi. You can contact him at president@dastak.org.

Fees: Membership dues of $50 are collected annually.

Founded: DASTAK was established in 1996.

Description: Since its inception in 1996, DASTAK has been committed to fostering a sense of community among members, as well as furthering their professional/personal aspirations. Taking its name from the Urdu language, DASTAK, roughly translated to “knocking on the doors of opportunity,” has been doing just this for the past seven years. DASTAK aims to eliminate barriers imposed upon the Pakistani community, all the while refining and favorably expanding upon the typical image of Pakistanis. They aim to foster cooperation and an exchange of ideas and knowledge between Pakistani communities throughout the tri-state area, as well as to facilitate practical, and career development amongst its members. Each year, DASTAK sponsors numerous professional events for its members, as well as community service initiatives and public outreach programs. In addition, dinners, seminars, and conventions are organized annually for members.

16.) Pakistani Professionals Networking Association (PPNA):

Website: www.pakistaninetworking.org/

Focus: The Pakistani Professionals Networking Association, aspires to not only provide a medium for the exchange of business/professional ideas among people of Pakistani origin, but also a convenient means with which to form friendships, cultural ties, and general purpose networking groups.

Number of Members: PPNA currently includes several hundred members throughout NY.

Fees: Membership dues of $20 are collected annually.

Description: The Pakistani Professionals Networking Association is a general purpose networking organization actively involved in the development of ties amongst members of the Pakistani community. Above all else, PPNA endeavors to encourage interaction between Pakistani professionals residing in and around New York City, in order to disseminate information about the Pakistani community and form professional/social bonds amongst members. Frequent events at some of NY’s top restaurants and venues, as well as mailing lists and up to date news headlines on the Pakistani community here and abroad, are the primary services provided to members. Networking opportunities, business contacts, and cultural dinners, are all integral components of PPNA’s quest to strengthen cultural ties and further the goals and ambitions of Pakistanis in NY. For more information about the organization or upcoming events, visit the PPNA website or e-mail info@pakistaninetworking.org.

Neha Shanbhag is a senior at the Wharton School of Business, majoring in finance and accounting. She has previously served as general manager at the University of Pennsylvania Student Federal Credit Union, currently works as a teaching assistant in the Wharton Finance Department, and is a member of the Penn South Asia Society and the Wharton Finance Club.

David Teten recently completed his first book, The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online (www.TheVirtualHandshake.com), published by the American Management Association, and co-written with Scott Allen. The Virtual Handshake is the first book that explains how to find your next client, your next job, or your next business partner online. The Virtual Handshake explains how to take full advantage of blogs, virtual communities, social network sites, and other “social software”. David is CEO of Nitron Advisors, LLC (www.NitronAdvisors.com), which provides institutional investors with direct access to frontline industry experts, and Chairman of Teten Recruiting (www.TetenCo.com), an executive recruiting firm. He was formerly CEO of an investment bank specializing in internet domain names. He is a frequent keynote speaker to finance and technology industry conferences and at such universities as Wharton, Columbia Business School, Yale, and Princeton. David formerly worked for Bear Stearns’ technology/defense investment banking team, and was a strategy consultant with Mars & Co. He holds a Harvard MBA and a Yale BA.

[1] South Asia Monitor Specials. South Asia Monitor.

http://www.southasiamonitor.org/. 16 October 2003

[2] Interview with Analee Saxenian. Rediff.com

http://www.rediff.com/money/2000/nov/07saxen.htm. 29 July 2003.

[3] Foreigner’s Envy, Nation’s Pride. Business Standard’s Billionaire Club.

http://www.business-standard.com/special/billion/year2000/story6.htm. 28 July, 2003.

[4] 2000 United States Census. United States Census Bureau.

http://www.census.gov. 24 July 2003

[5] Historical income Tables. United States Census.

http://www.census.gov/hhes/income/histinc/p23.html. 29 July, 2003.

[6] The Indian American Community in the United States. Embassy of India in Washington D.C.

http://www.outofindia.net/abroad/WashingtonDC/indian_american_community.htm. 24 July 2003

[7] About TiE. The Indus Entrepreneurs.

http://www.tie.org/site/About/About%20TiE. 25 July 2003.

[8] Indus Women Leaders.

http://portal.induswomenleaders.org/DesktopDefault.aspx. 31 March 2004

[9] Indus Women Leaders.

http://portal.induswomenleaders.org/DesktopDefault.aspx. 31 March 2004

[10] About AAHOA. The Asian American Hotel Owner’s Association.

http://www.aahoa.com/aboutAAHOA/about-aahoa.asp. 13 October 2003.

[11] The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin. AAPI.

http://www.aapiusa.org/aapi.nsf. 25 July 2003.

[12] Objectives of GOPIO. The Global organization of People of Indian Origin.

http://www.gopio.net/formation_gopio.htm. 3 August 2003.

[13] Indo-Americans Train Political Candidates and Raise Clout. IndoLink.Com.http://www.indolink.com/News/NRI/news_073103-145150.php. 13 October 2003.

[14] The Indian American Policy Institute. http://www.iapolicy.org/content/main.asp. 13 October 13, 2003.

[15] The Indian American Policy Institute. http://www.iapolicy.org/content/aboutus.asp. 13 October 13, 2003.

[16] DASTAK, Network of Pakistani Professionals. http://www.dastak.org/. 16 October 2003.

Russian-American Networks

In connection with research for our new book, The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online(www.TheVirtualHandshake.com), following is another in a series of articles on different special-interest communities. Given that my wife is from the former Soviet Union (as is most of my family tree), I have a particular interest in this community.

Building Business Relationships in the Russian Diaspora

by Vica Vinogradova and David Teten

Russians: who are they?

Russia’s political, economic, and technological transformations have greatly impacted the social identity of its current and former citizens. Several trends are notable: increased financial stability powered by the desire for continuing material advancement; a new sense of sophistication and investment in social success; a continuing tradition of good education; and a serious awareness of technology, fashion and lifestyle trends.

While Russian speakers abroad/émigrés circa 1970 were political refugees primarily focused on survival, today’s Russian diaspora considers the world — and, particularly, its homeland — a business opportunity without borders and acts upon the notion. For them, Russia is no longer an oppressive country to be fled at any cost, but a dynamically evolving nation that offers enormous business opportunities. In fact, while many Russians come to the US and Europe to receive a higher education and secure a top-paying job, some return to Russia after years of immigration to take advantage of these opportunities.

Regardless of professional field, an “average” Russian speaker living abroad is a well-educated professional in an executive or managerial position, or a business owner. Traditionally, Russians do well in IT, law, sciences, finance and arts.

Many Russian speakers are rather particular when it comes to networking. While not overtly communicative and even shy on the first encounter, they can be very warm and friendly once you pass the initial absence of a smile. Russian speakers often don’t know how to and why they should engage in small talk, and simply avoid it as a waste of time. If one is not assertive, it may lead to plentiful pauses in a conversation: when your Russian counterpart has nothing to say, he will most likely remain silent. This is particularly true for those who are not completely at ease with English. Therefore, when talking to a Russian, one would be well advised to initiate a conversation with a clear thought path and expect a certain degree of intellectual play.

Younger Russian speakers are more open and ready to plunge into a conversation to see if there is an opportunity to develop a possible business connection. A representative of this new league of twenty- and thirty-somethings describes the group as follows: “Russian businessmen are quite engaging and lavishly entertaining in small talk, which is more acerbic than that of Americans, and is reminiscent of the English country club; it’s the precision that counts, not volume. Dressed to kill (or at least to strike), their appearance is often representative of the behavior.”

Russians indeed are extremely brand-conscious when it comes to cars, fashion and travel. Career titles matter, and business card exchange is welcome. Dressing well and with style is extremely important to Russians, and if you don’t appear well accessorized (from shoes to watches), you might have trouble building credibility. It is incomprehensible to many Russians why one would choose to dress-down at an important occasion. For instance, a Russian would consider a woman wearing a skirt and sneakers as careless and lacking any sense of style. Yet, ultimately, it is your intelligence, achievements and eloquence that will make or break a meaningful connection. Russians innately have interest in fine art and fine things in life and will be impressed by someone who knows his Renoir and Rembrandt, and of course Chagall and Kandinsky. If you can show knowledge of Vasnetsov or Repin, you will certainly make the right first impression.

Russians love a good joke, but more often than not, American humor does not translate into Russian, and vice versa. So, before you make a joke, make sure that your counterpart can understand the references. In addition, successful Russian businessmen (especially those who live in Russia) are often arrogant and could have very sarcastic sense of humor. Russians do like to drink, but don’t kill your good intentions by offering someone a shot of vodka just because he is Russian. Many Russian businessmen are connoisseurs of scotch, and will expect you to know the brands. Women mostly drink wine, and will find it offensive when offered vodka as it will seem a usual case of stereotyping.

Russians abroad are typically well assimilated and don’t have a desire to define themselves as a separate ethnic entity. For example, there is no Russian Parade on 5th Avenue in New York. Russians socialize in well-established, closely-knit circles, both in terms of friends and business. A personal reference is the best way to join any such group. Online networking is far more “user-friendly” and open: people readily sign up and develop relationships without personal references, drawn together by the same cause (business, art, education, etc.)

Russian and Russia-related Online Communities

There are very few exclusively English-language online Russian communities for self-explanatory reasons. Those described below normally have both Russian- and English-language sections, where the latter is often a digest of the former.

U.S.- Russia Business Council [usrbc.org]

The U.S.-Russia Business Council is a Washington-based trade association that represents the interests of nearly 300 member companies operating in the Russian market. Its mission is “to expand and enhance the U.S.-Russian commercial relationship.”

Since its founding in 1993, the Council has been chaired by Robert Strauss, who served as U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union in 1991 and U.S. Ambassador to Russia in 1992. Eugene K. Lawson is the President of USRBC.

Council members receive commercial updates, issue briefs and event summaries via email listserv. In addition, the web site serves as a “virtual connection to the Council, and as a library of information on political, economic and commercial developments in Russia. More than three-quarters of the site is dedicated to an extensive members-only section that contains an online membership directory, … biographical profiles of Russian and U.S. Executive and Legislative branch officials” and more.

Membership fees vary: $1,250 yearly for non-profit organizations; $1,500 for companies with sales under $10 Million; $1,750 for companies with $10 Million – $100 Million in sales, to $12,500 for companies with sales over $10 Billion.

RAND’s Center for Russia and Eurasia Business Forum

[rand.org/nsrd/cre/blf]

The RAND Center for Russia and Eurasia provides policymakers, scholars, business leaders, and citizens with an in-depth understanding of developmental processes in Russia and the New Independent States in Eurasia since 1948. Jeremy Azrael has been the Executive Director of RAND’s Center for Russia and Eurasia since 1985.

The Center provides organizational and analytical support for the RAND Business Leaders Forum—a membership organization that facilitates in-depth discussions among leading corporate executives from Russia, the United States, and Western Europe of strategic opportunities and challenges in the development of economic and business relations.”

One of the CRE Business Forum’s missions is to “promote mutually beneficial commercial relations and to overcome obstacles to economic cooperation”. To fulfill its mission, the Forum holds two plenary meetings per year—one in the United States in May or June and one in Russia in November. The Forum also conducts focused meetings and workshops and sponsors research projects on issues of special interest.

CluMBA — Club of Russian-speaking MBAs [clumba.com]

CluMBA unites over 950 Russian-speaking MBAs around the world and aims to develop trustworthy business relationships among its members. Founded in 1999 by Andrey Gusev (Wharton) and Alexander Gorbunov (Harvard), cluMBA received its current name in 2000. Its word play incorporates references to the Russian word klumba (flower bed) and the MBA.

A typical member of the community is a 25-45 year old banker or consultant in an entry or mid-management position. To become a member, one has to be a native Russian speaker who holds an MBA from (or is a full time MBA student in) one of the following schools: Berkeley, Cambridge, Carnegie-Mellon, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Darden, Dartmouth, Duke, Erasmus, Harvard, IESE, IMD, INSEAD, Kellogg, Kelley, Kenan–Flagler, LBS, Michigan, MIT, NYU, Oxford, Rochester, Stanford, UCLA, Wharton, or Yale. There are no membership fees.

CluMBA offers its members several options for online networking, including discussion boards for registered users and global/regional mailing lists. CluMBA holds occasional career seminars with speakers on various topics. Social events are held quarterly in a trendy urban location. Non-members can participate in CluMBA’s social gatherings if invited by a member.

AmBAR – American Business Association of Russian Expatriates [ambarclub.org]

AmBAR is a non-profit organization with a mission to “build a full-fledged networking platform for Russian-speaking professionals to spur cooperation and technology innovation.” Founded in October 2002 by a group of Russian-speaking entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley area, the organization has grown to over 500 members in less than a year, and is rapidly expanding into other areas.

“AmBAR was created to foster the entrepreneurship and develop a pool of human capital representing IT and business professionals, angel and VC investors.” Its membership consists of a “healthy mix of professionals, executives, entrepreneurs and academia” and is headed by a respected Board of Directors. AmBAR hosts regular events at Stanford University, which range from speaker series and panel discussions to workshops on business and technology topics. A recent panel of speakers included Sergei Brin, President of technology and Co-founder of Google. Each event is attended by several hundreds of participants.

The Web site offers various forms of online networking, including mailing list, discussion forums and job postings. Annual membership of $30 (free membership until 2004) allows access to various premium resources services, including discounted entry fees to AmBAR events; full access to the membership base; private mail to AmBAR members and regularly updated job postings. Members also have an opportunity to make a 30 seconds announcement to the entire membership during meetings and are eligible to purchase a table at the Mini-Trade Shows held during the meetings, for demos, recruiting, and other promotional activities.

New York Russian Club [nyrussianclub.org]

New York Russian Club was formed in January 2002 with the goal of uniting and serving the Russian-speaking business and professional community in the greater New York area.

The Club is a private, non-profit organization uniting almost 100 members under the directorship of the art collector Natalia Kolodzei and the lawyer Michael Solton. The club is a full-fledged charitable organization for various worthy Russia-related causes, namely not-for-profit scientific, literary and cultural projects in the former Soviet Union and within the Russian community in the U.S.

Besides online networking via mailing lists, the Club regularly organizes a variety of social and educational functions for its members and invited guests (book readings, wine tasting, concerts). The Club enjoys a close relationship with the Russian Consulate in New York, where it holds its meetings and functions. In 2002 the club organized two charitable receptions at the consulate, one benefiting Russian orphanages and another the American-Russian International Orchestra The average member is a mid-level associate at a law, brokerage or accounting firm, 30 years of age or older. The Annual membership fee is $285.

YCROP — Young Creative Russians Online Portfolio [ycrop.com]

YCROP is a community of creative Russians in the USA. Founded by Radion Schwartz in 2000, the community profiles over 150 artists, photographers, writers and musicians residing in New York and other states. YCROP is an open community with no membership fees. Artists are encouraged to post their profiles on the site through a user-friendly interface. Each profile lists a short bio, samples of works, and a photo and provides the e-mail/Web site address of the artist.

The online community offers daily updates on cultural events in the Tri-State area, a periodic e-mail newsletter with art-related announcements; features prominent artists, and holds occasional social gatherings in New York’s East Village.

e-xecutive.ru

e-xecutive.ru is a project of Ward Howell International, an executive search and consulting company, aimed at the “creation of an online community of professional managers who are working in Russia, are related to Russia or interested in the country.” The larger part of the site is in Russian. The recently launched English version states the Community’s motto as: “Building Russia’s Human Capital”.

The goal of the community is to create a system of online services which would allow its members to advance in their professional careers and develop business on a qualitatively new level; to bring together experts with unique professional skills and knowledge; to create an environment which fosters the exchange of ideas and provides professional assistance.

The community offers various services, including executive search; management search and selection; career counseling and information exchange.

Vica Vinogradova is Vice President of Corporate Communications at DataArt (www.dataart.com ), a software outsourcing company with headquarters in New York and an R&D center in St. Petersburg, Russia. Graduate of Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, she has contributed to the development of Sonicnet, AOL’s Digital City and is a co-founder of Ladno Communications ( www.ladno.com ). A St. Petersburg native, Ms. Vinogradova has long been a link between Russia and the United States through the development of marketing and Web capabilities between the two countries. She has served as Director of Marketing & Advertising for the Kremlin Cup tennis tournament and for TBS/Goodwill Games. She is also an adjunct professor at Hunter College, CUNY.

David Teten recently wrote his first book, The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online (www.TheVirtualHandshake.com), published by the American Management Association, and coauthored with Scott Allen. He is CEO of Nitron Advisors, LLC (www.NitronAdvisors.com), which provides institutional investors with access to frontline industry experts. He was formerly CEO of an investment bank specializing in internet domain names. He has spoken before audiences at Wharton, Columbia Business School, Yale, Princeton, and at industry conferences. David formerly worked for Bear Stearns’ technology/defense investment banking team, and was a strategy consultant with Mars & Co. He holds a Harvard MBA and a Yale BA.

French-American Networks

Angelika Blendstrup, Ph.D, Ale Gicqueau, and Pierre-Jean Charra have been kind enough to contribute this analysis of network-oriented groups in the Francophone diaspora. You can read more about them at the end of this blog post, in their very impressive biographies. Given that I’m French-American, I have a particular interest in this area.

This is one in our series of articles on networks in various special interest communities. I worked on these articles in connection with research that we did for the book, The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online.

Building business relationships in the Francophone diaspora

By

Angelika Blendstrup, Ph.D, Ale Gicqueau, and Pierre-Jean Charra

1. What to know when building relationships with and among the French

Forget everything you have heard or read about the French as you get ready for a French networking event. Much of it is based on cultural stereotypes which don’t apply to an entire population anyway, and even less so for those French who have come to the US and particularly to Silicon Valley to work and live. We all have preconceived ideas — the French about the Americans and the Americans about the French — but in order to get the most out of the networking experience, ideas like these need to be checked at the door. Above all, most of these ideas are based on past behavior, but French networking behavior is now undergoing a revolution.

We will begin by giving you some general advice on how to be efficient in a French networking session, and then we will tell you what has changed recently.

The important thing, and that which will bring value to meeting French professionals, is to be very aware of the cultural differences and make them work for, not against you.

The French, as other Europeans do, work to live, whereas it is said that the Americans live to work. This difference in itself is significant, as relationships for the French supercede the task at hand. By paying attention to building these relationships, and showing how much you enjoy being with their groups, you start to make inroads to becoming a part of a French networking community. Many French belong to groups established through family, political, or school ties, which began long before they came to the US. As a result, the best way to approach people at French events is to have someone take you around and introduce you. That way you will be able to pick up quickly who’s who and people will be able to know who you are as well.

Before coming to a meeting, it is ideal to have some background on France’s historical and cultural past, as many discussions will make some reference to things in the past and you will be expected to understand them. The French also have an extremely selective school and university system and it is good to know which are the Grandes Ecoles (the elite universities), since many people working in the US have gone to one of the elite schools and want you to recognize the importance of having gone through this difficult system. Within France, an engineering degree from a Grande Ecole is widely considered more prestigious than a Ph.D. , and even more so than a JD or a MD. The whole school system is different. Without getting into the 4-year maitrise and the Classes Preparatoires, you can hardly understand how it works. On top of it, the early schooling,(elementary and secondary) with its long day, is more comprehensive than the US program. Latin, Greek, classics, history of civilizations: French people are major candidates to winning most Jeopardy shows.

If you studied French in high school or have traveled to France and learned some words and phrases, now is the time to dust off your old French verbs and get back to the language as actively as you can. You will have a distinct advantage if you can communicate with them in French, not in English (however, only if they understand you ;-).

French men and women are schooled to approach problems and issues from a theoretical point of view. They typically go through the classic process of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis and weigh all the options before making commitments. By comparison, Americans typically reach their decisions fast and count on optimizing them along the way to arriving at a solution. When listening to people debate issues, understand where they are coming from if the discussion goes on for quite a while. Realize as well that the French like to have a discussion for discussion’s sake, because it is here that they can demonstrate and enjoy eloquence and logical thinking processes (assuming the participants possess those desirable attributes).

The French will also make references in conversations that are hidden within other meanings, and they will not spell out everything (sous-entendus). The French are typically a more implicit culture, whereas the Americans are used to thinking and acting more explicitly. It is possible to decode much of what the French are saying if you are versed in the current and past history, and the politics of France and also its position in the European Union and the rest of the world. The French like to speak of their rich past, which for them explains the present, while Americans are more interested in the future.

Count on the form of communication being different from what you are used to in a group of Americans. Expect lots of interruptions and everyone talking at once in a seemingly heated argument (which in fact is just a normal discussion), much gesticulation, and possibly, when they are talking to you, they might be talking to others at the same time while attending to a third thing. This is not a sign of disrespect; the French like to multitask and will do it wherever they feel they can.

Don’t expect everyone to come on time. Time is often relative, especially when it comes to attending events which are more social than business. You will also notice people stand closer to each other in groups than you would see in an all American gathering and lots of touching, hugging and kissing will go on between the opposite as well as the same sexes. Enjoy it and go with the flow.

The French will have good food and drink at networking events because food is important; sharing it and a good glass of wine makes building rapport enjoyable. That’s what networking with the French is all about. Enjoy the camaraderie, enjoy getting to know people, work on getting to know them — the business part will follow, all in good time.

Even if the French seem carefree and open to discussing everything, certain conversational taboos do exist. They will talk about politics, religion, sex or even death. However, do not bring up problems within their families or refer to or inquire about money, unless you know someone really well and are considered an insider and real friend (even then, asking about their salary makes you an outcast. It’s a “gaffe”). Most importantly, if you leave a group with a comment such as “let’s have lunch or coffee”, or, “I’ll call you”, you should follow up and really carry out what you suggested, or you will lose any credibility you have previously gained.

Do not forget a business lunch in France lasts often more than 2 hours, and this is where and when business is done; this is the way the French build their business rapport. Without this kind of relationship, it is unlikely that you will develop a solid business relationship with them.

Most French, besides the younger generation, do not like to network online. Culturally speaking, the French build trust by meeting a few times around a table or when they are introduced by a close contact. Unlike in the USA, where trust is granted automatically when the parties agree on a win-win task, in France, it has to be earned by building a personal relationship. As trust is earned mostly through non-verbal communication, the French rely on online networking only when it is an extension of an existing relationship or when they assume they share the same values by being part of the same network or community.

In other words, online networking is more effective for maintaining a relationship than for starting or building a relationship. That said, the younger generation is much more Internet-friendly (and certainly the French are very heavy users of text-messaging), however, we can expect online networking to grow in importance over time.

2. Main French networking organizations

There are only a few large French networking organizations and many very small groups in the United States. This situation can be explained as much by the individualist nature of the culture as by the desire of the French to create deeper or more meaningful business or social relationships within a smaller group. Most French groups in the United States will have a social, cultural or outdoor dimension; however, there are a few professional organizations worth noting. One international French social and cultural organization is worth noting in particular because of its great popularity: l’Alliance Française.

Name: L’Alliance Française

Website: http://www.afusa.org/

Focus: Promotion of the French language and culture

Number of Members/attendees:

CEO/Organizer: His Excellency Jean-David Levitte, French ambassador

Fees: most Alliance Françaises are self-financed by teaching French classes to the Francophile community. In addition, the French government sponsors the largest Alliance Françaises in the USA like New-York or San Francisco by sending them an executive director.

Founded: 1902

Description: L’Alliance Française is the world’s largest French teaching association, with over 1000 schools in 129 countries. Their aim is to widen access to French language and culture, to encourage education, cultural exchange and a friendly dialogue among France and other countries. They are a social and cultural club, and do not offer general, professional networking events. They are ideal for Francophiles who want to get a taste of the French culture and/or learn French. Many of them have a French CineClub where films are shown in French. Most Alliance Française are independent and self-sustained; however, there are a few which are sponsored by the French government and are more prominent in their community, e.g., the Alliance Française of New-York.

French professional organizations are more an exception than a standard. In large cities, there are a few you can contact.

Name: The French-American Chamber of Commerce

Website: http://www.faccnyc.org/facc_chapters.html

Focus: French traditional networking, particularly for purposes of promoting French-US trade

President: Jean-Pierre Bernard

Fees: 1/3 from membership, 1/3 from events, 1/3 from sponsors.Founded: 1896

Founded: 1896

Description:

The French American Chamber of Commerce (FACC) has been opening borders between the United States and France. A private non-profit, commercial service organization, the FACC offers 20 US chapters and liaison chapters in Paris, all dedicated to the promotion of French-American trade and investment.

They have the following goals:

  • Encourage the sale of goods and services between both countries and promote better international understanding
  • Provide information to businesses on the economies and business environments of both nations and help promote the investments of each country in the other.
  • Work with the French and U.S. governmental and economic agencies, diplomatic and consular agents and all other associations in France and the U.S. that pursue similar goals.

Facilitate the interaction among our membership to foster continuing good economic, commercial and financial relationships between France and the United States.

Because the French-American Chamber is an older institution, it has established some strong ties with the French government and other institutional agencies. From time to time, the Chamber organizes honorary dinners with the French consul, ambassador or senators in the same way that similar events would be facilitated in France. Recently, on the west coast, the French-American Chamber of Commerce puts on events with another French group, DBF.

Name: DBF (Doing business in France)

Website: www.dbf.net

Focus: a successful French entrepreneur/businessperson talks about his successes every first Monday of the month (in French)

Number of Attendees: 40 — 50 each meeting

Founder: Jean-Louis Gassée

Fees: typically $30/event

Founded: 1994

Description: French networking group.

Name: InterFrench

Websites: www.interfrench.com, www.siliconfrench.com, www.lexecutiveclub.com, www.frenchcineclub.org

Because of the cultural differences we have described earlier, the networking experience in French groups could be somewhat intimidating. For this reason, a new non-profit organization called InterFrench, more integrated with the local community and with a networking focus, has emerged over the last few years to fill this gap.

InterFrench is a not-for-profit networking organization whose aims are to unite the French-speaking and Francophile community in North America and foster a new spirit of solidarity by bringing together the best of French and American cultures. It was originally created in the Silicon Valley in 2001, and most of its operations are in that region. InterFrench keeps its French flavor but, although French is the most spoken language in the gatherings, the doors are wide open to non French-speakers.

InterFrench is an attempt at merging the best features of American and French professional practices. InterFrench is about building long-term business or social relationships at a personal level with people open to the French. Many Francophiles attend InterFrench gatherings (Canadians, Belgium, Swiss, Moroccans, Indians, Russians and of course Americans). They bring their cultural diversity to a new Francophile professional melting pot.

Learning from their new adoptive country, the USA, the InterFrench founders wanted to create a network where anyone would feel welcome and could participate.

What foreigners often resent as arrogance is just the distance which the French put in their initial contacts. The InterFrench organizers decided to close the gap, and systematically break the ice between all participants. They think that although French and Americans are often antagonists, they either love or hate each other, but they seldomly ignore each other. Indeed they often complement each other as Americans are good in communication, sales, marketing, and management, whereas the French excel in culture, arts, mathematics, and engineering.

InterFrench members have multiple interests and they come from many different backgrounds. As a consequence, InterFrench in Silicon Valley is today composed of 4 complementary networking platforms:

  1. Siliconfrench for French-speaking professionals (http://www.siliconfrench.com )
  2. L’Executive Club: an exclusive club for French-speaking top-executives http://www.lexecutiveclub.com .
  3. The French CineClub for all Cinephiles http://www.frenchcineclub.org
  4. Frenchip: social gatherings of French and Francophiles in a relaxed atmosphere

Outside of Silicon Valley, InterFrench has only two platforms: InterFrench for small entrepreneurs and professionals, and the executive club for VIPs.

Overall, InterFrench has multiple goals:

· Merge the best of both the French and American cultures

· Act as a communication platform and promote a cultural & business bridge between North America and France

· Stimulate business opportunities between the French speaking community and North America

· Foster personal and professional development and offer business and job opportunities through casual exchange of knowledge, information and contacts

· Help French immigrants to integrate and prosper in the American society

· Provide an environment for innovation among entrepreneurs in a variety of industries. Coach younger professionals and entrepreneurs to reach their full potential by modeling top executives

The spirit and values of InterFrench are carried out by the board, the coordinators, the members and the volunteers. Each coordinator acts as a ‘node’ in the network. He/She frequently communicates, acts as an ambassador and catalyst, makes introductions and creates opportunities to InterFrench members by bringing people together.

InterFrench has a flexible structure that welcomes anyone who needs a support system to launch his/her projects, his/her ideas build a network and learn new skills. Team members are encouraged in their endeavors as long as their efforts give back to the community and they respect the integrity of our values.InterFrench has chapters in the USA, Canada and France.

All InterFrench Francophiles can easily connect through Internet mailing lists, forums and an Intranet allowing them to contact each other between gatherings or between chapters and across continents.

Contact: info@ siliconfrench.com

About the Authors

Angelika Blendstrup Ph.D., who is the Chair of L’Executive Club,at InterFrench is a business communications consultant who helps foreign-born executives with problems understanding the complexities of American business culture and the English language to communicate effectively. In particular, she helps them improve their written and oral communication skills, prepares them for media interviews and works on reducing their accents. Her clients include Fujitsu, A&D, DreamWorks/PDI, Tibco, Roche, and Sun MicroSystems. Angelika has traveled extensively throughout Europe and Latin America and speaks Spanish and Portuguese as well as French and German. Angelika holds a Ph.D. in bilingual, bicultural Education from Stanford University, a Master’s in Comparative Literature from U C Berkeley and a B.A. in foreign languages and educational psychology from the University of Tübingen, Germany. Contact: angelikab @stanfordalumni.org, http://www.professional-business-communications.com

Ale Gicqueau : the founder of L’Executive Club, co-founder of SiliconFrench© and is now leading the overall Interfrench organization in the US. He has held different positions in the software industry, working successively in software development, engineering management and business development roles. He is today a recognized evangelist in XML/RDB, and his efforts to develop an effective networking business platform for French-Speaking professionals, has lead to the creation and development of SiliconFrench© and L’Executive Club. Ale Gicqueau holds an engineering degree from l’Ecole Centrale Paris and a Master’s of Science from UC Davis. Contact: ale@ interfrench.com.

Pierre-Jean Charra: a born entrepreneur, was running his own company in France for 11 years. Tutorland was the leader in France of Computer Training Materials. He is the original Founder of the Interfrench organization and SiliconFrench© coFounder with Ale Gicqueau. The idea of L’Executive Club came from Pierre-Jean Charra years ago and he left its execution to his friend and partner Ale Gicqueau. Since he came back to France last August, he has been developing an organization of French professionals interested in doing business with North-America. Pierre-Jean Charra holds an Engineering degree from Ecole Centrale Paris and a Master’s of Science from UC Berkeley. Contact: pcharra @siliconfrench.com .

Chinese-American Networks

In connection with research for our new book, The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online (www.TheVirtualHandshake.com), I have worked with a number of partners to research different special-interest communities and how they build relationships with one another. The article below is the first in a series of pieces around this theme.

Building Business Relationships in the Chinese Diaspora

By Zhiyi Yu and David Teten

A few weeks ago, we spoke with a friend, who recently got a marketing director job in Shanghai. When asked how he got the job, he laughed and said that he did it without having an interview. Even though he is well qualified for the position, it is still unusual to get a job without any interview. He explained that the opportunity arose out of his mother’s high school reunion, where an old classmate of hers happened to be a hiring manager for this position.

While still in disbelief, we know that our friend is not the only lucky one out there. Such stories happen often in China, where the power of business networking or “guanxi” is prevalent. Even more so than in most other cultures, to get anything done, what matters most is whom you know and what relationships you have in place. As Dr. Hong Chen, Founder and CEO of The HINA Group, puts it: “many business deals are done in informal social/business meetings in China.”

As the former founder and CEO of the publicly traded company GRIC, Mr. Chen has an extensive network of contacts and is a frequent business traveler to China. Every time before he arrives in his destination, his friends will have already arranged meetings for him with other business professionals. They will go out for informal parties or drinks where they chat for business and other non-business issues. Often in such discussions, deals are sealed with a handshake.

However, such prevalence of off-line business networking rarely exists for first generation Chinese living abroad. When they leave China to go to a foreign country, they begin with a new life and have to build everything from scratch. This also means that they need to build a new social and professional network from the ground up. At one point of their lives, they struggle to find their identities and often have a difficult time assimilating into the mainstream society. Language barriers and cultural differences are the most difficult to overcome. As a result, in contrast to the informal social/business networking in China, organized meetings and conferences count as the most popular networking venues for overseas Chinese professionals. And increasingly with the proliferation of Internet usage, many Chinese organizations have established web presence and are leveraging the Internet as a medium for professional networking.

In fact, overseas Chinese are among the most avid users of the Internet. According to a survey conducted by Sina (www.sina.com), one of the largest Chinese Internet portals, Chinese Americans are the “most wired” consumers in the U.S. The online penetration rate of Chinese Americans is 59% versus 43% for Caucasian Americans. And the median income of Chinese American Internet user is $69,000, about 50% higher than the $40,000 median income level of Caucasian American Internet users. Of all the Chinese-American Internet users, 97 percent own a home computer, and 65 percent are online every day.

The high Internet penetration rate within the Chinese American population is a reflection of the above average economic and educational achievements of Chinese in the U.S. According to statistics released by the Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission (OCAC) in 2000, there were approximately 2 million Chinese residing in the U.S., with large Chinese concentrations in major metropolitan cities such as New York and San Francisco. Because of the large proportion who hails from professional families, Chinese Americans enjoy the third highest educational levels, just behind Koreans and Japanese. In sheer numbers they produce the most affluent people, accounting for 55% of Asian Americans earning over $100,000 a year.

Whether you are a Chinese professional looking to build your network, or a non-Chinese professional looking to learn more about business opportunities in China and in the Chinese diaspora, the Internet would be a good place to start your search for networking opportunities. The following is a summary of the types of organizations you should be looking for:

  • School clubs and associations — in almost every school with Chinese students, you can find a Chinese students’ club. Among the most active school associations include Harvard University Chinese Student Association (http://hcs.harvard.edu/~hrcsa/), Columbia University Chinese Students and Scholars Association (http://www.columbia.edu/cu/cucssa/), Association of Chinese Students and Scholars at Yale, (http://www.yale.edu/acssy/home.html), and so on. Most school associations work with both undergraduate and graduate level Chinese students, and some are also open to Chinese alumni.
  • Alumni associations of Chinese universities — although most Chinese come to the U.S. to pursue masters and higher level education, many remain tightly connected to the Chinese educational institutions where they attended undergraduate or graduate studies in China. Through the overseas alumni associations, they establish contacts with other alums and keep in touch with classmates who still live and work in China. Alumni of these overseas associations typically develop strong bonds within the organization as they maintain loyal and emotionally attachments to their homeland institutions. One example of this type of association is the Jiaotong University Alumni Association ( http://www.jtu.org/jtu/alumni/index.html ). Jiaotong University is a top school in China, equivalent to MIT in the U.S. The school has a very extensive global alumni network, with both domestic and international chapters in U.S., Canada, Japan, Europe and other regions of the world. Within the U.S., the alumni association is further broken down to separate regional chapters that cover different parts of the country. An extensive list of the overseas alumni associations of almost all the major Chinese universities can be found on http://www.us369.com/LIUXUEalumni1.HTM .
  • Professional organizations — the most popular networks among Chinese professionals are the professional organizations. Hundreds of Chinese professional organizations exist in the U.S. Alex Chan, President of the Chinese Software Professionals Association (CSPA, www.cspa.com), one of the largest Silicon Valley based technology professional organizations, points out that such fragmentation occurs because most organizations are organized by some type of specific criteria, for example, by the region from whence the members come or by profession. Sometimes, divisions are made based on the Chinese dialect. Finding a national or unified Chinese organization is difficult as a result.

Most of the Chinese organizations are formed to serve two main purposes: as a platform for Chinese professionals to meet one other, and for Chinese professionals to mingle with “mainstream” society. No stranger to professional networking himself, Dr. Chen started the Chinese Professionals Association, one of the earliest of its kind in the U.S., in 1991. In the last few years, he also served as a President of the Asian American MultiTechnology Association (AAMA www.aamasv.com), a pan-Asian business professionals organization, and founded and chaired Hua Yuan (www.huayuan.org), a Silicon Valley organization that attracts a large group of professionals from mainland China. When asked about what he saw as the biggest challenge for professional networking, Dr. Chen observed that mingling with the broader non-Chinese population has been an uphill battle.

While language and cultural differences pose significant barriers for Chinese professionals to mingle with the mainstream, Dr. Chen noted gradual changes in the past decade. In the earlier years, most Chinese pursued the mainstream aggressively. For example, a quick review of the calendar for the first years of the organizations above show that most of the invited speakers were non-Asians. Things are changing, however, as China’s economy grows stronger. Dr. Chen notes that more and more non-Chinese professionals are approaching the Chinese organizations asking to speak, as opposed to the reverse. An increasing percentage of the speakers are themselves of Asian background. More broadly, there has been a significant increase in interest in doing business with China in the last couple of years.

Regardless of the type of organization, you can expect some commonalities among them:

  • Professional conduit — you can expect many organizations to serve as a professional conduit between their members and professional opportunities by providing free services such as job postings to its members. Many professional organizations also offer speaker events around specific topics.
  • Social events –most associations organize some kinds of regular social events for its members. These events include cultural and recreational activities, such as an annual Spring Festival celebration, ballroom dancing, or a tennis tournament. Through these events, members can get to know each other and develop personal friendships. Often, single members find their significant others through such events.
  • Community board — it is common for organizations to have a community board where their members can exchange information on many things ranging from opinions on a political issue to apartment rentals. It is a way for the members to be connected to the rest of the community.

If you are new to professional networking, the best place to start is through professional organizations or school alumni associations. We have included a list of the most active organizations at the end of this chapter. In addition, you may also try your luck in recreational activities such as sports or chorus groups. Ching Ching Chorus (www.chingching.org) in Silicon Valley, for example, attracts many professionals from different age groups, backgrounds and industries.

Dr. Chen mentions church groups and Chinese schools as additional channels for networking. In Chinese schools, for example, the parents often socialize and get to know each other very well through their children. Of course, one of the best ways to network is always through informal gatherings and parties put together by your friends.

We have listed below some of the most prominent and active Chinese professional organizations below. This list is by no means an exhaustive list of all Chinese professional organizations in the U.S.

1) U.S. China Exchange Association

Website: www.usachina.org

Description: U.S. China Exchange Association is an official multi-national non-profit organization that promotes exchanges between the US and China in business, education, culture, and other areas through conferences, seminars, market research, training, business trips, trade shows, and other international exchange activities. Headquartered in New Jersey, with offices in Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Shanghai, Hangzhou and other locations in the US and China.

Membership: Over 2,000 business members from a variety of industries including pharmaceutical, telecommunications, chemical, machinery, electronic appliance, instruments, apparels/textile, computer, media, publication, advertising, education, finance, insurance, healthcare, travel, agriculture, construction material, and other industries in U.S. and China.

Contact: Scroll down the page, and you will find the contact information of local offices on http://www.usachina.org.

2) Asian American MultiTechnology Association (AAMA)

Website: www.aamasv.com

Description: AAMA is Silicon Valley’s leading MultiTechnology business network promoting the success of the Asia America region’s technology enterprises. Through its diverse programs ranging from monthly Speakers Series to the Asia-Silicon Valley Technology Investment Conference, AAMA provides a forum in which members can network, exchange ideas and share resources to promote and build one another’s companies and careers, ultimately benefiting the larger Pacific Rim technological community.

Membership: Over 1,100 members from about 800 companies. The members, both Asian Americans and non-Asian Americans, are key players in the Internet, wireless, telecommunications, computers, semiconductor, software, hardware, electronics and bio-tech industries. AAMA is also supported by a strong network of service industries—venture capital, law, finance, banking, marketing and public relations, technical and business consulting. Memberships separated into individual membership ($100 annually) and corporate membership (ranges from $1,000 to $10,000 annually).

Contact: http://www.aamasv.com/aboutaama/aboutaama_contactus.asp

3) Hua Yuan Science and Technology Association

Website: www.huayuan.org

Description: Huayuan is a professional organization that promotes the technological, professional and scientific development of the Chinese business community. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, Hua Yuan has launched a chapter in Beijing.

Membership: Over 700 members, mostly Chinese engineers and entrepreneurs. Majority of the members are from mainland China.

Contact: http://www.huayuan.org/directors.php#bm

4) Sino-American Pharmaceuticals Professionals Association (SAPA)

Website: http://www.sapaweb.org/index.html

Description: Founded in 1993, the Sino-American Pharmaceutical Professionals Association (SAPA) grew rapidly and has become one of the most active and well-recognized Chinese-heritage enduring professional organizations in the United States. Pharmaceutical science and technology professionals’ organization

Membership: Over 1,200 members in pharmaceutical sciences, the biomedical and biotechnological community, the health professions, and the interest of the public health in more than 35 states in the US and in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan.

Contact: page under construction.

5) The Chinese Finance Association (TCFA)

Website: http://www.aimhi.com/VC/tcfa/index.html

Description: TCFA is a non-profit organization aimed at facilitating the exchange of ideas, knowledge and information on education, research and practice in finance and related areas between the U.S. and China. TCFA will organize and sponsor a broad range of activities including original research projects, training programs, translations, publications, and international conferences. Regular member activities will be comprised of annual meetings, regular seminars & symposia, and field studies.

Membership: Open to students, scholars and professionals of Finance, Accounting, and other Economic and Management Sciences.

Contact: justinjiangzhm[@]yahoo.com or chinesefinance[@]yahoo.com

6) Chinese American Semiconductor Professional Association (CASPA)

Website: www.caspa.org

Description: Founded in 1991, CASPA is the Largest Chinese American semiconductor professional organization outside of China and Taiwan. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, CASPA has 6 regional chapters in Austin, Shanghai, Taiwan, the Pearl River Delta region in China, Oregon, and Arizona.

Membership: Over 3,000 individual members and 60 corporate members. Individual membership costs $20 annually, or $100 life time membership. Corporate sponsor package ranges from $500 to $4,000 annually.

Contact: http://www.caspa.com/index.phtml?section=contact

7) Chinese Professional and Entrepreneur Association (CPAEA)

Website http://www.cpaea.org/

Description: CPAEA is a professional association provides its members with services, events, and social activities such as holiday parties, seminars on education, investment, insurance, new tax laws, real estate, consultation sessions on job search skills, United States civil laws, and family issues. These activities aim to help Chinese professionals and entrepreneurs to gain more knowledge and information about their economic and social environment.

Membership: Over 500 members.

Contact: Professor Zhiqiang Gao, President, z.gao@csuohio.edu

8) International Chinese Transportation Professionals Association (ICTPA)

Website: http://www.ictpaweb.org/index.html

Description: Founded in 1988, ICTPA promotes the professional development of fellow Chinese who have an interest in transportation-related work in North America. The organization has four chapters based in Washington, DC, Northern California, Southern California and Northeastern United States.

Membership: Number of members unknown.

Contact: You can scroll down the page http://www.ictpaweb.org to sign up for free email updates on activities or get information on membership.

9) Hong Kong Association of Northern California (HKANC)

Website: www.hkanc.com

Description: Founded in 1984 to provide a focal point for Northern California-based individuals and corporations interested in business and trade with Hong Kong. The HKANC was the first Hong Kong Association in North America. Today, there are similar organizations in Atlanta, Boston, Hawaii, Los Angeles, New York, and Texas, as well as in Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg.

Membership: HKANC has over 60 corporate members. Individual membership: $50 annually. Corporate membership: $1,000 annually.

Contact: http://www.hkanc.com/contact.html

10) iNetwork128

Website: http://www.inetwork128.org/

Description: i128 is a pan-New England entrepreneur network representing small- and medium-sized business (SME) owners and executives. Its mission is to provide our entrepreneurs and others a fast, practical and economical channel into China.

Membership: over 1,000 small- and medium-sized business owners and executives.

Contact: Shawn He, Founder and President, info@iNetwork128.org

11) North America Overseas Chinese Transportation Association (NACOTA)

Website: http://www.nacota.org/

Description: Established in 1996, NACOTA is a non-profit professional organization with its members who work or study in the transportation or related fields in North America and who are interested in the transportation development in China. The main objectives of NACOTA include: Promote transportation development in China by providing technologies and expertise through its members; Strengthen the links between transportation professionals and students in North America and their counterparts in China; Promote networking among Chinese overseas transportation professionals and students; and disseminate information on transportation developments and major events in China to NACOTA members and partners in North America.

Membership: 500+

12) New England Chinese Information and Network Association (NECINA)

Website: www.necina.org

Description: founded in 1996, NECINA has grown to be one of the major hi-tech professional organizations in the New England area. NECINA reaches thousands of members covering diverse industries such as software, telecommunications, networking, bioinformatics, venture capital, finance and law.

Membership: over 1,000

13) Monte Jade

Website: www.montejade.org

Description: Founded in 1989 in Silicon Valley, Monte Jade has since established 15 chapters around the world including domestic U.S. chapters in New York, Chicago, Washington DC, New England, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Philadelphia. Monte Jade is primarily comprised of Chinese American professionals with experience in investment, management and technology.

Membership: 20,000 under Global Monte Jade including total membership and corporate employees.

14) Northwest Chinese H-Tech Professionals Association (NWCHP)

Website: http://www.nwchp.org/

Description: NWCHP is a Washington State-based professional organization representing and serving Chinese professionals in the hi-tech, legal, financial and consulting service industries in the US Pacific northwest (Greater Seattle) region.

Membership: 5,000+

In addition to the above organizations, a good list of professional organizations for Asian Americans can be found on http://www.careercompany.com/links-asian.html.

Co-Authors

Zhiyi Yu is Managing Director of Global China Operations at OpenBC (www.openbc.com), an online global networking platform for business professionals around the world to find, connect and establish new business relationships and contacts. Previously Zhiyi advised U.S. and European venture capital firms and technology companies on investment and operational strategies. Prior to becoming a consultant, Zhiyi was an Investment Director with ITX, a $1.5 billion venture fund backed by Olympus Corporation, one of the world’s largest consumer electronics and healthcare products companies. Prior to ITX, Zhiyi held senior management positions in business development, product management and marketing for two start-up technology companies that were acquired by InfoSpace and Symbol Technologies. Earlier in her career, Zhiyi worked at Goldman Sachs and APAX Partners, where she evaluated and executed a number of corporate finance and private equity deals in China. Zhiyi is a native of Shanghai China and holds a B.A. with Magna Cum Laude from Harvard University and an M.B.A. from Stanford Graduate School of Business. She can be contacted at z(@)openbc.com.

David Teten recently released his first book, The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online (www.TheVirtualHandshake.com), published by the American Management Association, and co-written with Scott Allen. The Virtual Handshake is the first book that explains how to find your next client, your next job, or your next business partner online. The Virtual Handshake walks you through how to take full advantage of blogs, virtual communities, social network sites, and other “social software”. David is CEO of Nitron Advisors, LLC (www.NitronAdvisors.com), which provides institutional investors with direct access to frontline industry experts, and Chairman of Teten Recruiting (www.Tetenco.com), an executive recruiting firm. He was formerly CEO of an investment bank specializing in internet domain names. He is a frequent keynote speaker to finance and technology industry conferences and at such universities as Wharton, Columbia Business School, Yale, and Princeton. David formerly worked for Bear Stearns’ technology/defense investment banking team, and was a strategy consultant with Mars & Co. He holds a Harvard MBA and a Yale BA.

On building bridges between different cultures

In response to our call for stories for our forthcoming book, Arash Farin shared a beautiful story about the value of building bridges between different cultures.

Yusef Kassim and I met as students at the University of Pennsylvania. I came from a Persian-Jewish background, and Yusef’s parents immigrated to America from Sierra Leone. Yusef is African-American, and his parents are Christian, although his grandparents are Muslim. Since I was very involved in Jewish causes for the three years I lived in NY, I’d often take Yusef with me to various Jewish events, Shabbat dinners, fundraisers, etc. Yusef had expressed an innate desire to learn more about Judaism, its various traditions, and its rituals with respect to major milestones, including Bar Mitzvahs and marriage. I was happy to oblige and invite Yusef to any events I could.

Yusef came to grow with and really appreciate the Jewish faith over time, and I was please to have a good friend learn more about its customs and emphasis on strong family values. One of the people I introduced Yusef to was Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a renowned and outspoken rabbi, whom I had met while studying abroad at Oxford University. Shmuley had subsequently moved to Englewood, NJ, and frequently invited guests to his house on Friday nights. On one occasion, I also introduced Yusef to Mark Gerson, co-cofounder of the Gerson Lehrman Group, and they immediately hit it off.

At the time, Gerson Lehrman was a fairly small organization, probably with fewer than 10 employees, and felt more like a startup. Although Yusef was working at Goldman Sachs at the time, he and Mark developed a good friendship, often times leading to offers of employment from Mark. Yusef was also highly regarded at Goldman Sachs, and Mark immediately recognized that Goldman Sachs was seen as a great breeding ground for top talent and future executives. [Editor’s note: Arash worked there too, so this is not exactly an objective comment…]

Eventually, Yusef decided to leave Goldman Sachs and join Mark’s team; at the time Yusef was among the first few Gerson Lehrman employees, affording him the opportunity to help shape the company’s strategy. Not surprisingly, Yusef thrived at Gerson Lehrman, was promoted a number of times, as is now one of the firm’s most prominent Vice Presidents. Today, Yusef and I constantly discuss issues related to the Jewish faith and he has many Jewish friends; never could I have predicted the events which transpired as a result of my friendship with him, but I was more than happy to expose a good friend to Jewish ideas, and couldn’t be more pleased with how things ended up, especially in terms of Yusef’s career and the opportunities he was able to take advantage of, given his unique talents.

Racial Diversity pays off in your network

Diversity has been a buzzword in organizations for at least fifteen years. How much is really known about its effects on performance? Harvard Business School professors Robin Ely and David Thomas investigate.

http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item.jhtml?id=4207&t=strategy&nl=y