By James Tabafunda
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Cultural awareness in business goes beyond recognizing diversity. Being respectful of other cultures and building cross-cultural communication can open the doors to new opportunities.
In 2009, Lourdes Sampera Tsukada looked at available resources for her small business, coincidentally named Opening Latino Doors. A former mortgage banker at Seattle Mortgage, she found very few local resources addressed the question: “How do you approach the different cultures in today’s market?”
Doing business locally and internationally — thanks in large part to the Internet — now requires small business owners to either know the answer to this question or not know and compete with other small business owners who do.
For that reason, she founded the first annual Multicultural Biz Wiz Conference, an all-day, resource-filled event for small business owners and those interested in starting their own business. It is scheduled for September 9 at the Renaissance Seattle Hotel.
“Communication styles vary from culture to culture. It is the awareness of the cultural context for any business negotiation or interaction that is the key to success for area entrepreneurs and the future of business,” said Sampera Tsukada.
“They (small business owners) should know who their audience is by finding out what is important to them. You have to pay attention to who your audience is. It is changing, and it’s multilingual.”
She, herself, speaks four languages — Italian, Spanish, English, and French. “People were blown away three months ago when I said “Thank you” in Mandarin,” she admitted.
“I tried to get as many (local) resources that work with small businesses as possible. All of my sponsors, I tried to make sure that they work with small businesses in some form,” said Sampera Tsukada.
Conference exhibitors will have printed handouts available for those who attend.
“If you put them all underneath one roof, people can go up to the booth and grab the materials because, really, the small business owner does not have time to be going on the Internet,” she added. “I’m an Internet queen, and that’s why I decided, you know what, small businesses need this.”
The conference will feature several local speakers of color who will talk about such issues as networking, choosing the right business entity, sales and marketing techniques that are best suited for specific audiences, and contracts. She said, “The individuals that are chosen at this conference are really experts, but, not so much experts at what they do, it’s with the multicultural levels that they also have experience (in).”
The morning session – focused on the similarities among culture — will feature Ted Yamamura, Boeing Asia-Pacific regional manager and founder of the Executive Development Institute, Thach Nguyen, owner of Thach Real Estate Group, and Assunta Ng, owner and publisher of the Northwest Asian Weekly and the Seattle Chinese Post.
In sales, for example, Sampera Tsukada says if you know how to “engage that similarity or difference, you could get a ‘Yes’ or build that rapport.”
David Cho is the president of AAT Television, a multi-Asian television network based in Seattle. It broadcasts a variety of television programs in Mandarin, Cantonese, and Vietnamese to over three million households in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties.
He will serve on a media communication panel during lunch. “I will be talking about TV. People think it’s really expensive if you go on KOMO and KING. But, at nearly half the price, you can get just the same exposure to a group that’s more specific to your needs,” said Cho.
“We, as small businesses, can work together and be equal to the big corporations.”
He added, “So, I think cooperation among us is really important. For small business owners, there are big networks for you out there to work with. And, Asians are one of the biggest groups that you should focus on.”
“That’s my passion: meeting people and connecting people,” said Sampera Tsukada. “I am seeing a unity and help (among) the Koreans, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Filipinos, all of that within this area, and I am blown away by that.”
Both the Northwest Asian Weekly and the Seattle Chinese Post are co-sponsors of this event, which will be brought to other states starting next year. (END)
For more information about the Multicultural Biz Wiz Conference, go to www.multiculturalbizwiz.net.
James Tabafunda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.