It’s still summer vacation right now in the MIM program. Many students are on the road traveling, some are busy with internships, and others are catching up on lost sleep from the previous months of the program.
For several MIM students who attended the Northwest China Council’s China Business Network event yesterday though, this time off from class is an opportunity to get out and network in the business community. The Northwest China Council is a non-profit organization in Portland that promotes understanding and connections between China and the Pacific Northwest. In addition to the cultural activities that the group organizes, there are also a number of business events that are held throughout the year, that serve as both as networking platforms for those interested in growing their business connections, and also provide educational information on issues relevant to doing business in China.
Yesterday’s event dealt specifically with the internationalization of China’s currency, the RMB. This included a presentation by Joseph Soroka of Key Bank, who gave an overview of China’s recent currency and foreign trade policy, followed by a Q&A session . The discussion was of course decidedly finance-heavy, and in many aspects covered material that MIM students learn in their International Finance class in the second term of the program. That being said, the presentation was a much-needed review of some key finance concepts, and also went into more detail on certain aspects of China’s currency policy, such as the fact that China has one currency used for onshore trading (i.e. trading within China), referred to as CNY, and another currency used for offshore trading, referred to as CNH (see here for a fuller explanation).
With any networking event, I often say it is good to go there with at least a general goal in mind of what you want to accomplish there. Do you want to meet new people and build connections that could potentially lead to jobs later on? Do you want to learn about a specific topic that is covered at the event? Or do you simply want to practice your networking skills, like how to strike up a conversation with someone you’ve never spoken with before, or practice your elevator pitch? All are great goals to have when going to networking events, but I will add that sometimes I feel it is good enough to just get out there (“there” being the business community) and see who else is in attendance at these events, and see what opportunities are available. Portland has a relatively small and close-knit business community, and what I’ve discovered from going to a variety of networking events is that often the same people are going to the same kind of events, month after month. Sound repetitive? Maybe. But what’s great about this is that the more events you go to, the more you will recognize and become familiar with people in the business community, and the more they will become familiar with you. And the more familiar people are with you, the more they will begin to think of you when opportunities (i.e. jobs) become available.
So what’s the lesson here? Should a student participate in every networking event that comes their way? Should you always expect to get some tangible outcome from networking, like a handful of business cards and people you can connect with on LinkedIn? The answer to each of these points is of course no, not necessarily. The MIM program keeps students very busy, and it is not possible to go to every networking opportunity, but getting out to at least one event a month is both manageable and makes sure that you are actively getting involved and meeting new people.
If you are interested in learning more about China and building contacts with people doing business there, the Northwest China Council puts on some great events that are worth checking out. So whether you are in the MIM program, or interested in learning more about business opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region, I encourage you to get out and network as much as possible.
Josh is a full-time student in the Master of International Management program. After graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in Japanese, he taught English in Tokyo for 3 years, before moving to China and teaching at a university in the city of Zhengzhou. Inspired by his experiences in Japan and China, he was drawn to the MIM program because of its regional focus on Asia, as well as for Portland State University’s reputation as a leader in the field of sustainable business. He is studying Chinese in the MIM program, but tries to keep up his Japanese whenever he can.