I just got back in the second week of March from three weeks of job and business opportunity shopping in Vietnam, mostly in HCMC.
While in Vietnam I quickly experienced the limitations of my perspective in that:
- I don’t speak Vietnamese. I learned English is the international business language of Vietnam, while Vietnamese is required to deal with the government.
- I didn’t know the complete rules of social engagement. I learned the Vietnamese spend a lot of time on small talk and sometimes never move on from there. Making a mistake in the business part of a conversation that would be ignored in the US can be a deal breaker in Vietnam.
- I didn’t know the best ways to follow up on my meetings. I learned that follow-ups are done with phone calls or text messages, while email is rarely acknowledged or replied to.
- I didn’t know what caught the attention of potential employers. I learned that that titles and diplomas get more attention than in the US, and can open door in unexpected ways.
I scrambled for jobs and opportunities, learning as I went. In the event, I got more informational interviews and job offers in three weeks than I’ve had in two years in the Bay Area.
I spoke at two Toastmaster clubs (presently the only operating clubs in Vietnam), gave an impromptu speech at Citynetevents on the rooftop terrace of the New World Hotel in HCMC, taught a class on the 8 good habits of Google managers at Hong Bang University, mentored students in spoken English, and spoke with hundreds of people – in short, I had a great time.
How did I do it? I think these points build upon Pat McHenry Sullivan’s writings (www.visionary-resources.com) sum up what I did by:
- Lowering my emotional barriers to give people ready access to me.
- Working on being authentic: I said that I needed a job and needed it now.
- Being present: I treated each day as the first day of my job search.
- Turing my stress into energy: I can’t remember sleeping less and doing more in three weeks.
- Putting aside my feelings of embarrassment for not speaking the language and not knowing the finer points of social and business etiquette.
- Focusing on one objective: find a job.
The experiences taught me that today’s worries should not make my world stand still.
Stand up for what you need and find out how to get it.