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Networking

When doing business in Cambodia, as with any country, effective networking is a very good way to get ahead. This is a small country with a relatively compact business community, and the expat community is even smaller again. This can easily be used to your advantage as it does not take long to make good friends, useful acquaintances and meet potential clients.

There are a wide range of regular events, membership organisations and online networks which present perfect opportunities to make those critical connections that will unlock doors for your business.

Here, B2B will point you in the right direction to give you a headstart on your networking journey.

  • The simple question “What do you do here?” is an easy opener to begin a conversation in Cambodia. It may well be more normal in Cambodia to walk up to strangers and introduce yourself than it is in other parts of the world.
  • Remember that, despite a huge diversity of backgrounds, you have one thing in common with all foreign workers: You may be new in town, but so were they at some point.
  • Business card exchanges are a fundamental part of any networking or introduction, so get prepared and always have some of your own easily at hand.
  • Be sure to pass the card with both hands, with the information on the card facing the recipient.
  • If you have a double-sided card, with English on one side and Khmer on the other, pass it with the appropriate language facing upwards.
  • Upon receipt of a business card, it is considered polite to read it thoroughly and to store it for future use in a considerate manner. Carelessly shoving someone’s card in your pocket suggests that you’ll do business the same way and won’t be appreciated.
  • When writing Cambodian names, the traditional order is the family name first, followed by the person’s given name. Western influence has, however, meant that in some cases the order is reversed which can lead to considerable confusion. So don’t be embarrassed to ask for clarification if you’re unsure.
  • When referring to a Cambodian person, it’s common practice to use their given name, prefixed by the appropriate term of reference, for example Mr. Heng Ly, Chairman of The Cat Appreciation Club Cambodia.
  • There is no shortage of networking events in Phnom Penh. The Finishing Post, hosted by the Phnom Penh Post, is one of Cambodia’s premier business networking events, bringing together top management from around the nation on the last Friday of every second month under a social umbrella. Each Finishing Post event is held at a different venue in Phnom Penh, and very occasionally in Siem Reap, and has been a long-time favourite network event for many players within the Cambodian business community. However, don’t just turn up—it’s entry by invitation only.
  • Industry-specific events, such as the construction industry’s monthly Lighthouse Club meeting, are likely to draw people with common interests in a relaxed environment, and joining one of the many business chambers will get you regular access to your compatriots.
  • Internations, a members-only organisation, also hosts regular events—visit their website at www.internations.org for more details.
  • In 2011, the Cambodian Women’s Entrepreneur Association (CWEA) was created to bolster women’s position in the business world and to provide networking opportunities.
  • Industry networking is a developing aspect of the Cambodian business environment. More and more business chambers, industry organisations and professional associations are being created, many of which hold regular meetings and networking events.
  • Organisations such as BritCham Cambodia, AmCham Cambodia, the Australian Business Association of Cambodia (ABAC), and EuroCham Cambodia, are the main chambers that offer regular networking events, invitations to meet with trade delegations and seminars on pertinent business topics.
  • Further information about these organisations can be found in the Business Chambers and Organisations section.
  • NGOs and Fundraisers like Beers for Bears, the Wildlife Alliance’s “Welcome To The Jungle” and “Glamazon” events are other great places to meet people, and a chance to support a worthy cause while you do it.
  • Don’t forget that any social event is a networking opportunity.
  • There is cheese and wine tasting at the Intercontinental Hotel on the last Wednesday of each month, exhibition launches at Meta House or Java Café, Nerd Night, countless open mic nights if you are musically inclined, sporting teams and events, and loads of other fun events are popping up by the day, where you’re bound to find someone interesting to talk to.
  • Websites such as ours, Expat Advisory and Leng Pleng, as well as several Facebook groups, are good for information about events that are happening around Phnom Penh and beyond.
  • Keep an eye also on the daily English-language newspapers such as The Phnom Penh Post, Cambodia Daily and the Khmer Times for event listings and the obligatory post-event picture round ups.
  • The Advisor is also a useful source of information, mainly featuring art and cultural content, published every Thursday. It available free of charge at multiple locations around Phnom Penh.
  • Monthly magazine AsiaLIFE Cambodia, in addition to event listings, has regular profiles of business people that can help you to target the professionals who might come in handy and be useful to get to know.
  • Online networking tools shouldn’t be overlooked. Facebook and LinkedIn are just as popular in Cambodia as elsewhere in the world, and useful for making contact again after an initial meeting.
  • Expat Advisory (www.expat-advisory.com) provides forums, job postings, and other content around which an online community has formed – and B2B Cambodia aims to do the same with more of a business focus.
  • The Cambodia Parent Network is a Yahoo group with more than 2,500 expats (not all of them parents).
  • It’s a great source for moving sales, buying and selling, and sourcing difficult-to-find items. They also have a Facebook group that is more parent-oriented than the Yahoo group.
  • Khmer440 is a popular online Cambodia expat forum that skews to the older male Phnom Penh expat crowd, however, it’s a great source of information for any niggling questions you may have about Cambodia.
  • Each part of Cambodia has its preferred means of connecting. The Siem Reap expatriate community uses Facebook extensively, whereas Phnom Penh is a lot more fractured and uses a variety of online forums to connect.
  • Coastal towns, such as Sihanoukville, Kep and Kampot and the other provinces have smaller expat communities and may be more disconnected as a result.
  • For more personal items and questions Cambodia Parent Network, which can be found on Yahoo! Groups, is quite useful with the community providing answers to most questions, announcing leaving sales and other useful information to ease your life in Cambodia.
  • In 2011, the Cambodian Women’s Entrepreneur Association (CWEA) was created to bolster women’s position in the business world and to provide networking opportunities.
  • For start-up businesses, having like-minded professionals to discuss ideas with can be invaluable.
  • HackerSpace Phnom Penh offers a collaborative environment alongside a co-working space, and is regularly involved in events like the StartUp Weekend.
  • CoLAB is another example: A co-working space, innovation lab and startup pre-incubator for designers, developers, consultants and social entrepreneurs that seeks to encourage interaction in the workspace and, ultimately, support creativity and innovation.
  • Bar Camp and TEDxPhnom Penh are both technology-oriented events geared towards generating forward-thinking solutions to problems both local and global.
  • For start-up businesses, having like-minded professionals to discuss ideas with can be invaluable.
  • HackerSpace Phnom Penh offers a collaborative environment alongside a co-working space, and is regularly involved in events like the StartUp Weekend.
  • CoLAB is another example: A co-working space, innovation lab and startup pre-incubator for designers, developers, consultants and social entrepreneurs that seeks to encourage interaction in the workspace and, ultimately, support creativity and innovation.
  • Bar Camp and TEDxPhnom Penh are both technology-oriented events geared towards generating forward-thinking solutions to problems both local and global.
  • There are also numerous sporting organisations in Cambodia that welcome expatriates. Rugby and touch rugby, tennis, badminton, football, Aussie Rules, American football, ultimate Frisbee, netball, cycling and the Hash House Harriers are all opportunities in Cambodia to network, socialise and exercise.
  • A number of the sports have leagues but there are also informal events that you can attend throughout the year. Check local listings for times and places.
  • Major sporting events will always draw a large crowd of expats offering the perfect opportunity to make friends and contacts.
  • Embassies often hold events in Cambodia, and all its expatriate members are usually invited.
  • Some, like the US Marine Corps Ball and American Independence Day celebrations are open to anyone who registers and buys a ticket.
  • The Swedish Embassy holds a St. Lucia party on December 13 for Swedes and Finns.
  • Other embassies are apt to mark special occasions with celebrations, such as Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, for the Americans living in Cambodia, and Australia Day celebrations for the Australians.
  • It is worth getting to know the representatives at your embassy of choice so you can receive invitations.
  • Weddings and births are important aspects of Cambodian culture, as they are in any other.
  • Receiving an invitation to attend the resulting celebration is a great honour and one not to be taken lightly.
  • The chance to participate means creating an intimate connection between yourself and a potential business partner, client or supplier that you should not pass up.
  • You will, by attending, show great respect for all involved and develop fruitful connections at the same time.
  • Remember to offer some money as a gift to the family hosting, regardless of how well you might know them, and be prepared for some noise.
  • Remember as well, parents, your children are major networking opportunities.
  • This applies to integrating into both the Khmer and the expat communities, as young children aren’t held back by language or cultural barriers.
  • Children’s sports and school events are an excellent opportunity to network and build up contacts. You can encounter people from a variety of industries and nations on such occasions.
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1 COMMENT

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