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Cross-Cultural Communication in Business

In a world that is becoming increasingly more globalized, it is important to know how to effectively communicate with people of other cultures. Whether you work with a diverse group of coworkers or engage in business transactions with people across the world, it is essential to be knowledgeable about the distinct cultures of the people you interact with.

Impact of Technology

As technology continues to grow and develop, great advances are being made in the ways people communicate with one another. As these capabilities have increased, our connectedness to the world has also increased at a rapid rate. It is now possible to communicate instantly with someone across the world through video chat, instant messaging, and social media. These platforms and many others have made it possible for numerous international businesses to emerge. Business transactions can now be completed across the world with nothing more than a laptop and a good connection to the Internet.

When communicating with the use of technology, it is important to identify which communication channel will be best. Some cultures rely heavily on nonverbal cues and body language. For this type of culture, a richer form of communication such as a video conference would be best. In other cultures that communicate directly, a leaner form of communication such as email could be sufficient. If technology is not used properly in business, it can unintentionally become a barrier to cross-cultural communication.

Relationship versus Task Orientation

When doing business cross-culturally, there are certain differences that you should take into account. One major difference that exists between cultures is relationship orientation versus task orientation. Countries that are more relationship-oriented focus on building relationships before doing business. In this context, it is important to spend a significant amount of time getting to know the person you are doing business with over coffee or a shared meal. This allows people to build trust with one another, and it lays the foundation for future business relationships.

Cultures that are more task-oriented place a higher priority on meeting deadlines and adhering to schedules. Oftentimes, people who are task-oriented view time as money. If you are late to a meeting with a task-oriented individual, this conveys to them that you do not value their time. To a task-oriented individual, it may initially seem counterproductive to spend hours getting to know people over coffee or a meal, but it is essential for business professionals to devote time to building relationships. Finding a balance between building relationships and completing business transactions is essential.

Cultural Sensitivity

Interacting with people in a cross-cultural setting brings to light differences in religion, ethnicity, language, communication patterns, and personality types. Researching other cultures prior to doing business with other people can increase your cultural sensitivity. This helps you gain a better understanding of why people respond in certain ways, what is most valuable to them, and how those values affect their day-to-day interactions with others.

When working cross-culturally, it is important not to impose your frame of reference upon other people. Because a person’s culture is linked to their identity, it is important to reserve judgement and try to see things from their perspective. This can bring about unity and mutual understanding. Whenever you truly seek to learn from people of other cultures, it fosters genuine respect and increases your overall effectiveness in doing business.

What are ways you can increase your cultural sensitivity today? 

5 Values of the Coworking Community

In 1995, a concept, known as “coworking” began transforming work style and space design. To keep anyone from setting “the rules”, the initiators defined coworking vaguely.

With only 20 years of history, coworking has evolved into a worldwide movement. It has vastly impacted economies, business development, and entrepreneurial ecosystems. Its progress has had direct impact on work environments and whole industries. Some argue it has influenced a stronger creative economy.

What is coworking? One must embrace the values which unite spaces despite their difference in markets and inhabitants.

Community

Communnity extends beyond people working near one another. Community reflects a value of care not only for the space but for the individuals that inhabit that space. It carries an underlying idea of a shared purpose. Sometimes these communities organize around a similar occupation bringing together industry professionals who can push each other along. Other times the community reflects a diversity of occupations, yet the members wish to learn and grow along side of one another. In both cases, there is a shared value of care present.

For a better view of our view on community check out our post here.

Openness

An important aspect to any community is the ability to be open with one another. Some cultures struggle with this ideal of being open handed with ideas. Coworking combats this way of thinking. Members of a community must know each other and have trust among their piers. Those entering the space are not there to outright compete or gain the advantage, but to invest and give to the community. Since openness takes time to build, it should always be part of the goals of any coworking space.

Collaboration

Coworking creates an environment for individuals to collaborate with their strengths and professions. Those managing the space can help by encouraging projects that would necessitate collaboration among the members. There have been plenty of examples of new startups and companies forming as a direct result of collaboration within coworking spaces. Such examples create a positive impact on the community internally and the greater local economy.

Accessibility

There has been a shift in work style which rejects the traditional “work in isolation model” which was demonstrated by offices and even cubicles. The coworking value of accessibility rejects this model as well. It pushes the need for people to be accessible. While important ideologically, it may also cause some angst because it entrusts other members to be professional in their approach without being overbearing. When the members allow themselves to be accessible, it builds the community.

Sustainability

Ongoing health and development are central tenets of coworking. Sustainability includes the ongoing development of the economy culture surrounding it. Sustainability brings financial stability and personal/professional growth among the participating members. For sustainability to happen, the members must invest and active in developing the core values.

The coworking community accept these core values as unifying factors across the industry. They are interdependent for the success of the space. Failure in one area may undermine the others. Each core value must be cultivated in the local coworking space.

What has been your experience with coworking? Would you try it, recommend it, or avoid it? Visit the BetaBar website and contact us for a visit in Montenegro.

6 One-liners That Challenge Your Marketing Strategy #SparkMe

This year’s Spark.me line-up impressed even the most veteran attendees who have come to expect only excellence from the annual conference. Having attended this year for the for the first time, I must say that from the moment I arrived for the opening ceremony I could feel the excitement and anticipation in the air, and I knew I wouldn’t leave disappointed.

Though all the speakers were fantastic, it was Mark Schaefer’s one-liners that challenged me the most and filled me with gumption and drive as I considered the impact these truths could have on my own work.

#1. “People will believe a review from a stranger over advertising from your company every time.”

As any good presentation would, Schaefer’s talk began with the problem explaining that the days of pushing advertisements and seeing results are over. People have grown tired of constantly being bombarded with commercials of companies all claiming to be the best, and this constant exposure has led to repulsion and distrust. People now prefer to make their purchasing decisions based on a complete stranger’s input rather than that of your promotion, which no doubt boasts the obviously superb qualities of your product, because experience has told them that they simply cannot trust you. You sell the product; of course, you are going to say it’s great. But, in the eyes of today’s consumer, the more influential and valuable input comes from the average reviewer who’s seen as a neutral party and fills the role of trusted advisor.

#2. “If loyalty isn’t enough, what do you do?”

As Schaefer drove home the concept, he made the problem personal as he asked, “if loyalty isn’t enough, what do you do?”, and it felt as if the entire room gasped at the thought. What do we do now? If this isn’t a question you’re already asking in your workplace, it should be. Advertising is expensive, and in the world of start-ups, we know well that money doesn’t grow on trees. So, how do we make the most of our marketing resources and convince our audience to choose our product over any other?

#3. “I don’t know that I love the brand, but I love the people who made it.”

At the center of it all, Schaefer proposed love as the answer. Right about now, if you’re like me, you’re thinking “love – I thought this was a presentation on marketing; how can love be the answer?!” But, think about it. The days of being loyal to a company or a brand are over, but one thing remains – we still love people. In fact, Schaefer shared the story of a friend who had chosen a local soap manufacturer over a popular household name (Ivory). To his surprise as he inquired about her choice, his friend shared the entire story of the company’s start, the people who work there, and the way they support and improve the local community. When asked about the quality of the product and the brand, she answered with, “I don’t know that I love the brand, but I love the people who make it.”

#4. “The most human company will win.”

So, how do we illicit that sort of response from our audience? How do we make them love us? In essence, our humanness builds the connection between our company and our potential customers. People don’t want to buy from a huge conglomerate; they want to buy from someone they know and trust. It has become less about the product one buys and more about the people who produced it. In a sense, consumers want more for their money; not only do they want a superior product, they also want the feeling of pride as they become part of something greater by investing in people who inspire them.

#5. “Consistency is more important than genius.”

Sometimes we can become paralyzed by the search for the perfect idea, but Schaefer argues that in the world of humanness, it’s consistency more than genius that matters. As distrust continues to plague the consumer’s outlook on the commercial world, consistency from a plethora of people is the answer. As a marketer, you want to create natural avenues through which you can share honest stories. Some of our greatest influencers now are our employees – people who have connections with the average consumer. Have you given them a platform to share their stories? What about your consumers? Are you giving them opportunities to share why they love “the people who made it”?

#6. “Passion without a plan is just a hobby.”

As entrepreneurs, we want our businesses to be successful and many of us have built our businesses based on an idea that drives us, wakes us up in the morning, and propels us forward. But, without a plan and without concentrated action, our passion will remain a hobby and will leave us with an empty bank account and ideas of what could have been. To avoid that bleak outlook becoming a reality, we need a plan. How can you share honest stories of everyday people who propel your brand forward because of their love for your people? How are you going to drive consistency in these stories and their release? Ultimately, you want people to be filled with expectation and anticipation as they wait for the next story to be released. And, they won’t expect that which they aren’t exposed to on a regular basis, so get your team together and plan!

Now it’s your turn. How will you put these concepts into action?

More Than a Desk: Community

What is Community?

Community is a word that we hear a lot, but often we don’t fully understand what it means or its importance in our lives. So, what is community, and why is it so important to have community in a coworking space? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a community as “an interacting population of various kinds of individuals in a common location.” One word that stands out in this definition is “interaction.” When you have a group of people from various backgrounds who are truly interacting with one another and seeking mutual understanding and friendship, it creates a dynamic workplace.

Everyone has been designed to live in community. Even the most introverted person, like myself, benefits from spending time with people who are trying to reach their personal and professional goals. One major benefit of a coworking community is the discipline that comes from seeing others work hard to accomplish their goals. Seeing this discipline provides indirect and informal accountability. It also provides a level of motivation that cannot be duplicated at home or in a café.

In addition to this, a coworking space provides an opportunity to collaborate on projects with other people. The unique perspectives from other members of the space can help people to look at something from a different point of view.

How is Community Formed?

Community is not formed by simply having an open space for people to socialize and gather together. While it is essential to have a balance of personal desks as well as open areas for building relationships, this is not enough. Community is formed when people take the initiative to reach out and build relationships with their fellow coworkers. It is incredibly important for the owners of a coworking space to take the first step in forming the foundations of a community. This can be done by inviting people out to lunch, giving new workers recommendations on what to do around the city, and creating an inviting atmosphere.

When an environment is welcoming, people are more likely to gather together in shared spaces to socialize over a cup of coffee. After this foundation is laid in a coworking space, it is important to keep building upon it to ensure that new members feel welcome and included. One way to build upon this foundation is to offer social events outside of work hours. This can be done by holding a pizza and movie night to provide a platform for individuals to get to know one another better outside of the work environment.

Every day I have seen community demonstrated in the speech and actions of coworkers at Beta Bar. Whenever people take a break from work to share jokes with one another, we find out more about each other’s personality and bond through lots of laughter. Whenever people bring in food to share at the workspace, we are able to connect over a meal and learn more about people’s culture. Whenever people invite each other out to coffee after work, we deepen our relationship past the surface and create an opportunity to learn more about people’s life story.

A coworking community should be a place where people can go learn, grow, and have fun together. When people have ample opportunities to interact with one another, it creates an inviting atmosphere where people truly feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves. A coworking community isn’t formed overnight. It takes time, but the benefits that flow from working and interacting with like-minded people in a coworking community are numerous.

PRESS RELEASE: Beta Bar Wins 2018 Coworker Members’ Choice Award for Coworking Spaces

BAR (April 16 2018) Beta Bar today announced it has been recognized as winner of the 2018 Coworker Members’ Choice Award for Montenegro. Members’ Choice award winners were determined based on the thousands of reviews, votes and opinions collected in a single year from coworking space members worldwide.

“Our mission is growing businesses and investing in people through collaboration, community and sustainability,” said Jennifer Buxton, co-founder of Beta Bar. “This award recognizes our hard work to make that mission a reality for our members and all the businesses that Beta Bar touches. One of the greatest things about being a part of Beta Bar is our membership, which include many different people and their diverse businesses from all over the world.”

“Coworker is excited to announce the winners of the 2018 Members’ Choice Awards and celebrate the coworking spaces around the world that are making an impact in their community”, said Leanne Beesley, CEO of Coworker. “By putting a spotlight on coworking spaces that are providing a great environment and creating a community for their members, Coworker gives coworking spaces both large and small the ability to shine and attract new members.”

About Beta Bar

Beta Bar is the first coworking // shared workspace in Montenegro for everyday tasks, rooms for intentional collaboration, access to mentors for business development and opportunities to connect with the Bar community. Beta Bar offers dedicated desks, open coworking spaces, kitchen / lounge area for casual networking, located at Makedonska G-18 in Bar, Montenegro.

About Coworker

Coworker, the member-powered platform for the global coworking community, enables people to find & connect with their perfect coworking space wherever they are in the world.

Planning an Effective Business Seminar

Business Seminar

Business seminars can require a lot of time, energy, and preparation, but they can be incredibly beneficial for everyone involved. A well-planned seminar can provide a platform for participants to learn more about a particular subject, network with like-minded people, and renew their enthusiasm. Here are 5 ways to make the most of your next seminar.

#1. Start Promoting At Least Two Weeks in Advance

When planning an event, include essential information such as date, time, and location on all promotional materials. Make sure that all promotional materials such as brochures and posters are created and printed at least two weeks in advance. This ensures that there is adequate time to proofread and edit all materials. Promoting the event at least two weeks in advance also gives possible attendees a sufficient amount of time to add your event to their schedule.

#2. Present a Topic That Is Relevant to Your Audience

When determining what topic to speak about for a seminar, consider what subject matter will be relevant to your target audience. This aspect is crucial to creating interest in the community. By selecting relevant themes, people will be more likely to share your event on social media and attend your seminar.

#3. Keep It No More Than 6 Hours With Coffee Breaks

Try to keep the seminar six hours or less with coffee breaks scheduled at different intervals. This provides attendees with an opportunity to build relationships with one another and to connect with the speaker. Coffee breaks also help participants stay alert and focused throughout the entire seminar, so they can get as much out of it as possible.

#4. Create an Atmosphere for Q & A

One way to engage the audience is to ask for questions or comments periodically throughout the seminar to ensure that participants have a clear understanding of the subject matter. Another way to increase participation is to introduce segments that are conversational as opposed to only following a lecture style of teaching. This creates an interactive atmosphere where participants feel open to ask questions.

#5. Provide Resources After the Seminar

During the seminar, have each participant sign in and include relevant contact information such as a phone number and an email address. At the end of the seminar, email copies of PowerPoint slides and other presentation materials to the participants. This provides beneficial resources to the people who have attended so that they can refresh themselves on what they have learned. It also gives you an opportunity to follow up with those who attended to determine which aspects of the seminar were the most beneficial and what areas could be improved.

Book Review: Failing Forward

Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping stones for Success by John Maxwell will help you stop making excuses, start embracing failure as a natural, necessary part of the process and let you find the confidence to proceed in business and in life.

Failing Forward handles the psychology of success and failure, presenting case studies mostly of people and businesses that managed to come back from major setbacks or failures to succeed. Written in the typical John Maxwell style, it has anecdotes, stories and quotes relevant and leading towards the lessons to be learned from the book.

“Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward.” John Maxwell

This is the attitude that Maxwell wants to teach us with this book. Failing Forward is about losing some of the conditioning that we have all come out of school learning – the paralyzing fear of failure. Maxwell wants us to see failure at the horizon and move ahead with confidence.

Here are 3 lessons to help you change your perspective:

#1: You might not be responsible for your failures, but you can sure take responsibility for your success. It’s not always your fault when things go wrong, but, when you give up and feel sorry for yourself, that is. When successful people fail, they see it as a momentary event, not a lifelong epidemic. It’s not personal. If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, don’t let any single incidence color your view of yourself or your business. Do you know what all successful entrepreneurs have in common? The ability to bounce back after an error, mistake or failure. Figure out what you didn’t do right, so you don’t do it again. That’s the key to bouncing back and failing forward.

“Every successful person is someone who failed, yet never regarded himself as a failure.” John Maxwell

#2: Turn failure into knowledge and knowledge into success.
Failing is not losing unless you do not learn from what went wrong. As an entrepreneur, making multiple attempts to launch your business can take the pressure off every single one.  We must come to the realization that entrepreneurs will go through multiple stages of failure, which will allow us to learn from each one and improve their next product or service we offer. This is how failure leads to success. When we put too much pressure on ourselves, we often don’t have the stomach to revisit our failure. But, how else should we find out what we did wrong? Make more. Quantity over quality. Be determined to understand your failures and then improve each time.

“Achievers are given multiple reasons to believe they are failures. But in spite of that, they persevere. The average for entrepreneurs is 3.8 failures before they finally make it in business.” John Maxwell

#3: Three things help you make the most of the opportunities that come your way.
When you begin to realize that your failure is actually a step forward, you will move forward and be open to opportunities that comes your way. Take captive every opportunity. Maxwell suggests working on three things to ensure you do: set clear goals; work on your social skills; and, keep a positive mindset.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” John Maxwell

These are just the beginning. The more you fail and learn from them, the more you will be prepared in the future. Meaning, do not let setbacks hold you back for too long. We recommend this book to anyone striving to succeed despite all odds and needing some inspiration. Failing Forward can be applied to your entire life and not just to business.

6 Reasons to Mark Your Calendar for Spark.Me #SparkMe

Mark your calendar for the 6th annual Spark.Me 2018 that will be happening on May 26-27, 2018 at Hotel Mediteran in Budva, Montenegro. You can’t miss this and here are 6 reasons why!

#1. Spark.Me is Back in Budva! Breathtakingly beautiful Budva lies on a small peninsula and represents a treasure chest of culture heritage. Crossed with narrow streets and squares, you can also visit many shops, cafés, restaurants and galleries in Old Town Budva. The Budva coast is 21 km long with 17 beaches. It is among the most beautiful coasts in the world. Also, you can find a wide range of accommodation, from very affordable to exclusive and luxury. Click here to see our recommendations! If you live in Budapest, London or Stockholm, there are great options for discount airlines like EasyJet which flies into Tivat and RyanAir & Wizz Air which fly into Podgorica.

#2. The Connections. So many connections have been made at Spark.Me. Business partnerships. Brand relationships. Job offers. Life-long friendships. And, the list goes on and on. Spark.Me is a place where people are actively looking for ways to connect with others and promote their next projects, their next ideas and their next dreams. It’s real and it happens every year.

#3. The Speakers. This is the best part of the conference experience. You’ll be in touch with other international professionals and experts to ask questions, share your concerns & experiences and seek solutions.

#4. The Schedule. It’s going to be the Most Epic Spark.Me yet! Fortunately, this 2-day 3-day conference with a workshop day added on Friday gives you the most bang for your buck in a short period of time. But, do not fret that you will be inside all weekend because Spark.Me will organize a cocktail party, host the conference feet away from the beautiful beaches of Montenegro and offer breaks between talks to have informal gatherings that will surely add fun during your Spark.Me weekend.

#5. The Opportunities. They are always so numerous, such as Spark.me Startup Competition. Spark.Me focus on innovation, the power of ideas, the startup’s potential to grow and team diversity. Participating in the competition enables you to have access to advisers, mentors and a network of investors, industry experts and entrepreneurs.

#6. The Community. This powerful community of business people, marketers and media impresses and engages us every conference.

Buy your tickets here before they sell out!

PRESS RELEASE: Beta Bar Will Participate with European Creative Hubs Workshop in Edinburgh

The partners of the European Creative Hubs Network project (co-funded by the EU’s Creative Europe program) are pleased to announce its third and final skills workshop for creative hub leaders, taking place in Edinburgh on October 26-27, 2017. Produced by Creative Edinburgh in collaboration with Creative Dundee, How to Future Proof Your Creative Hub, aims to build professional capacity by developing tailored support and skills for 25 creative hub leaders, including Beta Bar.

What do we mean by creative hub?

A space that brings creative people together, whether that be a physical or virtual space, is a creative hub. It can be as small as a collective or as large as a building that houses a multitude of creatives – made up of one sector or a variety. It can also be a virtual hub, with an online network that might meet up physically via an events program throughout the year.

How to Future Proof Your Creative Hub
This workshop will build leadership skills and provide practical tools and tips to help identify future trends, the impact of these and how you can plan for the future of creative hub.

The workshop is closed for the public, but interested audience will have a chance to meet attendees of the workshop on Thursday, January 26th at Talking Heads: Loving EU event hosted by Creative Edinburgh. The event will celebrate Edinburgh’s links with Europe, its cultural links and creative collaborative strength as a community with other European friends. It will also show solidarity and appreciation for creatives from EU countries who have come to Edinburgh.

More information can be found at www.creativehubs.eu and Creative Edinburgh.
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Why Small Conferences Are Beneficial #SparkMe

July 28… and yes, I’m still thinking about Spark.Me.

The lasting benefits of attending a small conference like Spark.me are not only about the sessions, but they have been about the networking and relationships that have followed online and off.

Not every professional conference has the clout or size like SxSW or TechCrunch, which is why some amazing ones can slip right past you. For me, Spark.me was one of those. It’s a two-day tech/marketing conference in the country of Montenegro. If it had not been for my internship in Montenegro, I would never have heard of it.

And, I would have missed out.

Spark.me changed my view of small conferences and why these conferences are worth attending. Here are a few reasons conferences like Spark.me are worth your time and money.

  1. They Create Networking Opportunities. You will not meet and add a thousand people to your LinkedIn network if you go to a small conference, but, that’s not all networking is.

    The best business connections you can make are the ones that will last, and it takes a good conversation between two people. In a smaller setting, you will be able to really hear what others are doing and what their business is creating.

    It’s not about how many people you meet, but more about the conversations that you have during the coffee breaks. This easily happens at smaller conferences for a couple of reasons: less people (less noise) and easy accessibility to speakers and attendees.

    You don’t have to go to a big conference to find great people in your industry. You just need to make an effort to meet them and make a sincere connection.

  2. They Help Local People. Small conferences, while more regional in their reach, can be very powerful in effect.

    Spark.me provides a great example. Each year they inspire tech and marketing people in the Balkans to set and achieve great goals. It is easier for local students and entrepreneurs to engage in the industry’s conversation while not traveling too far.

    The people at Spark.me are improving their community through education and business opportunities – and that’s definitely something that I support.

  3. There’s Always Something You Can Learn. The big conferences have the thought leaders of today. You’ll hear the latest trends and buzzwords and encounter the industry’s “celebrities.”

    Fortunately, small conferences bring in speakers who you may have never heard of, and that is not a bad thing. There are many people who are working hard and creating new ideas in the industry and also working on “smaller” lesser-known projects.

    Great speakers who are working hard in the industry can provide practical information and hands-on information that are on par or even more informative than these well-known thought leaders.

    Spark.me organizers work hard on bringing in speakers who are entertaining and engaging, but who also provide diverse content, such as Rory Sutherland and Heather B. Armstrong.

The bottom line: don’t underestimate a small conference.

If you’re looking to network or get up-to-date information on industry practices, any good, reputable conference can offer you this. Do your research by searching the Internet and asking others. See if there are any professional conferences near you.

And if you are still unsure what professional conference you should attend, I suggest you see when the next Spark.me conference is and you, too, will see how great a small conference can be.