December 10, 2018
10 things

10 Things I Know About … Engaging the immigrant business community

Jasmine Ortiz.

10) Engage your diverse employees. Take inventory of the communities and ethnic cultural neighborhoods your employees represent.

9) Encourage cross-cultural business development opportunities. It's the best time to engage your workforce in sponsoring and participating in cross-cultural exchanges with other businesses.

8) Shift your mindset. As a community's cultural, racial or ethnic identity shifts, so do its values. What may be an important purchase for one group, may not be as important to your present group.

7) Leave money talk at the door. Cultures and ethnic groups see money very differently, and speaking of money can be taboo in an informal matter. First build relationships before talking about money.

6) Hospitality goes a long way. It is important to give a friendly or generous reception to business owners of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Most will receive you in a generous or friendly way, and have the expectation it will be reciprocated.

5) Language barriers should not deter engagement. It is a plus if you have a multilingual workforce, but companies dominanted by monolingual English speakers should still press forward. At first there will be some apprehension from employees, but with experience, the language barriers will seem to lessen.

4) Access to financial capital. Building business partnerships are key; and one way of doing this is supporting immigrants with access to capital.

3) Expressing your company's mission. When a company embraces diversity in its mission and business practices, it is much more successful in gaining trust and respect from their local immigrant business owners.

2) Being authentic in your Why. Business thought leaders emphasize the importance of identifying one's Why as an individual's purpose, but a company's Why can determine how authentic they are perceived by ethnically and culturally diverse immigrant business owners.

1) Be flexible. Immigrant business owners value the flexibility of time that self-employment brings, especially to spend with family and friends. Companies wishing to engage these business owners with their products, events or community partnerships should keep this in mind.

Jasmine Ortiz is a project manager and realtor associate at Keller Williams Commercial's Coastal Lakes and Government Services Group in Worcester.

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