Seven tips for networking success

Why do we network?

  • To form friendships
  • To achieve our goals/business
  • To get business referrals
  • To navigate everyday life

 It sounds easy but did you know that ‘speaking to strangers’ is one of people’s most common fears besides ‘public speaking’?

How many networking events do you attend regularly? Consider attending at least one a week. Think of it as an extension of your work day – as if you are doing overtime for yourself.

And since you are going to be there for a while. be prepared to have a good time. You’ve arrived at an event, so make sure you go away with a smile and some new contacts to add to your network.

Here are some tips to help you succeed:

  1. Preparation – If you have the opportunity, research the people you want to meet – a minimum of three people is enough. There is no point meeting many people if you can’t have a quality conversation with them.
  2. Business Cards – have you got enough business cards with you? Why not have some blank cards in case some people don’t have a business card.
  3. Look your best – wear clothes that make you look good and reflect well on your business. Check your personal hygiene (deodorant, brushed teeth, light perfume) as you will be standing close to people.
  4. Body language – use eye contact and a firm handshake when meeting someone. But be aware that, in some cultures, men and women don’t shake hands for religious reasons.
  5. Entering and exiting – Survey the room when you enter a networking event. Look for any openings such as a person who is standing by themselves or a small group. Try not to enter if only two people are talking – it may be a private matter. If you need to move on, be polite, say it was nice to meet you and that you may catch up later.
  6. Handling food – avoid sticky food. Always have your wine glass and serviette in your left hand, leaving your right hand free for handshakes.
  7. Post networking – follow up with a LinkedIn invitation with wording that shows you listened and found the person interesting. Arrange a coffee meeting to get to know each other better if you see value in it.

Finally, make networking part of your daily activity. See my blog on ‘Broadening your network’. You will reap rich rewards if you do.

Soraya Raju is the CEO and Founder of  Migrate Success. She is a cultural integration expert and has developed the LAB program© – LOOK, ACT, BELONG – which covers workplace etiquette, language and cultural integration for professionals and skilled migrants.

What is Anzac Day?

Newly arrived migrants might be wondering what Anzac Day is all about? What is the significance of Anzac Day? Why is it a holiday?

For Australians, Anzac Day is sacred – a day of remembrance for all those servicemen and servicewomen who have fought for their country. ANZAC stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Anzac Day is celebrated on 25 April every year. It is a very important national occasion because it marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War (1914-1918) at Gallipoli, Turkey.

Even though, the Anzac forces did not achieve victory, it left a powerful legacy of the “Anzac legend”. Today, we commemorate all those service people who lost their lives in the service of our country through military and peacekeeping missions.

Anzac Day begins with dawn vigils at memorials, including at Gallipoli in Turkey. In Australia, this is usually followed by marches in cities and towns by former servicemen and women. You will also notice relatives, including young people, marching with pride while wearing the war medals of their ancestors.

I encourage all migrants to watch one of these parades as it makes us realise the bravery and sacrifice our service people have made for this country which we have chosen to call home.

There are several rituals associated with Anzac Day:

  • Anzac biscuits – significant because these dry biscuits were sent to the soldiers back in World War I.
  • Rosemary sprigs – which we wear on our shirts or lapels because it signifies ‘remembrance’.
  • Poppies – also worn as a remembrance. Poppies tend to grow where the earth has been disturbed so you will see field poppies growing along various battlefields of Europe.
  • Two-up – a game of chance using two coins which was played by the soldiers to help pass the time during the great wars.Many migrants would be aware of RSL Clubs ‘Returned Services League’ Clubs which are all over the country as a place where returned servicemen and servicewomen can share comradeship and reflect on their experiences.Have you wondered why, at 6:00 pm daily, everyone in the RSL Club observes a minute of silence while the ‘The Last Post’ is played? This is a mark of respect acknowledging the end of the day (originally signifying the end of the day at battle) and remembering all those service people who lost their lives. The phrase ‘Lest we forget’ is often used to remind us to remember the sacrifices these people made.

Every migrant should visit the Australian War Memorial in Canberra to understand the significance of the ‘Anzac tradition’. I have been there myself and have attended several Anzac Day marches to commemorate our former servicemen and women and to acknowledge those who are still in active service today around the world.

If you would like to know more about the Anzacs, go to Anzac Day tradition.

Soraya Raju is the CEO and founder of Migrate Success. She is a cultural integration expert and has developed the LAB program© – LOOK, ACT, BELONG – which covers workplace etiquette, language and cultural integration for professionals and skilled migrants.

Acknowledgement: Ellie Griffith,17 Dec 2016

The Importance of Volunteering

What is volunteering and why should you think about doing it?

Volunteering is about giving back to your community without expecting anything in return.  It is part of the Australian’s philosophy of ‘mate ship’ to give a helping hand to those who are in need. For us migrants, it is also a way of connecting with the broader community and learning more about our new country.

I know that many migrants volunteer within their own ethnic community because they feel comfortable doing it and because it helps them to pave the way for new migrants, making it easier for them to integrate. Many migrant mothers do tuck-shop duties in school canteens but have you thought about what other opportunities there are to volunteers in the community?

The recent bushfires south of Sydney (and in other parts of Australia) were terrifying as many people were evacuated with the fear of losing of their homes, pets and even livestock.

Organisations such as the Illawong NSW Rural Fire Service and the NSW State Emergency Services (SES) worked hard through the night to save the homes from the devastating bushfires which were creeping into the suburbs. But did you know that many of these fire fighters were volunteers?

Volunteers also helped to bring food to the evacuation centre to feed both the firefighters and the residents who had been evacuated.

There was one instance where a man helped to put out the fire on his neighbour’s home when he was away from home. That is the Australian spirit – helping a mate out – even when they are not there.

So, why would you volunteer? What are the benefits?

  • have the satisfaction of having helped others
  • meet people and make new friends
  • get to know your neighbours (including anglo-Australians) – breakdown cultural barriers
  • develop new skills in working together (co-operation)
  • show leadership in your community
  • introduce new ideas and experience from your home country.

I have heard from many migrants that job applications are rejected on the basis on not having local experience. By volunteering, you could add this local experience to your CV to demonstrate your pro-activeness in making a positive contribution to an organisation or the community.

For example, if you are a qualified engineer, you could perhaps help the SES with some new ideas of removing fallen trees over bridges or power lines. Or if you have medical knowledge you could volunteer to help in hospitals, health centres or rehabilitation facilities.

There are many places you can volunteer your services.

Go to or check out what’s needed in your local area. You can also approach organisations directly or check their websites to find out about what volunteer opportunities are available. Why not start with your local Regional Fire Service?

If you can’t find a job to suit your skills why not join a volunteer group and make use of your skills while you are waiting? That way, you can learn more about Australia, help your local community and even help out a mate. Who knows, you might need the help of a volunteer yourself one day.

At  , we are passionate about Volunteering. Contact us to find more about our workshops and courses. Our chosen philanthropy is Dress For Success


Soraya Raju, CEO & Founder of Migrate Success. 


Safe swimming tips – for migrants

It was a beautiful sunny summer day. A group of International students, includingme, were visiting Coffs Harbour in northern NSW. As part of the summer ritual, we went off to the beach in perfectly calm sea.

I am an average swimmer and waded into the shallow waters (or so I thought) to swim. The next sequence of events are still a haze to me. I was swept away screaming and before long I was rescued by a lifesaver. Thrown onto the beach, I went into a deep sleep and woke up sunburnt and suffering severe sunstroke. Yes, having a dark skin does not protect you from the fierce Australian sun. I was taken to hospital and put on a ‘drip’ to rehydrate me.

Lately, there have been a lot of drownings– 22 people have died, including international students, so I thought I would share my thoughts on how to swim safely in our beautiful beaches.

Many migrants who arrivehere are average, or non, swimmers, and are unaware of the dangers of the Australian water.  So, unless you just want to paddle in the water, take note of mysurvival tips:

The Beach

Enjoy yourself, but be careful. Only swimbetween the red and yellow flags –which is the area patrolled by our lifesavers (who are dressed in red and yellow swimming trunks and caps).

‘Rips’– these can be dangerous as you can be swept out of shallow water into deeper water. If you are not a strong swimmer, stay close to the water’s edge, and  remember my experience!

Sea creatures– it’s not just sharks you have to look out for– it’s also stinging creatures, such as ‘blue bottles’and jelly fish. If you get stung, seek medical advice.

Sunburn–always haveplenty of sunscreenon – irrespective of your skin colour – as ultra violet (UV) can be very high in Australia. I am never out in the sun without 30+ SPF sunscreen and a large-rimmed hat.

Fresh Water Pools

Take care when swimming or diving in fresh water pools or rivers because there could be rocks, tree trunks and branches hidden just under the surface which have caused many accidents and deaths.


This is a great thrill for some, but it can be fraught with danger. This is because some migrants are unaware of the unpredictable nature of the waves crashing over the rocks. This has caused many unnecessary deaths, because fishermen are not always good swimmers, do not always wear life jackets andtend to fish alone.

So, to sum up – it’s important to be aware, but not afraid, of the dangers in our Australian waters. By thinking about your safety first before you go in the water, it will give you and your loved ones,both here and abroad, peace of mind. Enjoy safe swimming!

Want more information? Press Control + Click to read more:

Soraya Raju, Cultural Integration Expert, Migrate Success Jan 2017

How to live with neighbours in harmony

When I first started living in an apartment block in Sydney, my elderly neighbour knocked on my door. “Did you cook any seafood?” she asked. I answered that I did and had wrapped up the rubbish and threw it into the bin. She replied: “That’s not what we do here. You freeze the fish entrails and put them into the communal garbage bin on the day when rubbish is collected”. I was so embarrassed. I had no idea! To this day, I freeze my seafood entrails and only throw them in the bin on garbage collection day!

Tips for being a good neighbour

Today, more and more people are living in high density apartments – a bit like living in a small village. We need to show courtesy and respect to our neighbours in such close proximity. Here are some survival tips:

  • Always acknowledge your neighbours and greet them with a warm smile or a wave.
  • Keep noise to a minimum – many buildings have thin walls and noise travels far.
  • Remember the “no noise” time limits are from 10:00 pm to 7:00 am, so keep your TV music turned down and don’t use any tools during these times.
  • If you are having a party, it’s polite to let your neighbours know beforehand – or even invite them to the party.
  • Know the rules of rubbish disposal – recyclables must be put in the right coloured bins – and boxes should be flattened.
  • When you’re cooking spicy food, make sure you open the windows for ventilation – not everyone loves the smell of spicy cooking.

Throw a shrimp on the barbie

Why not take the initiative to organise a barbecue (or barbie) to help you get to know your neighbours? Some apartment blocks have roof-tops for these types of events or you could meet at a park near you. This is a great way of making friends – not just in your back yard, but around the world. When I was in New York years ago, a friend invited me to one of his roof top barbecues and I met lots of people that I still keep in contact with today.

Love thy neighbour

Another important reason to know your neighbours is that you may need them if you are sick or have an emergency. Also, if you are going on holiday, your neighbour could collect your mail and you could return the favour when they go away. Most neighbours are happy to keep an eye on your home – provided you do the same for them.

Save the trees and stay cool

If you have migrated from another country which has high density living, you may not be familiar with living with big trees in your garden.  My conversations with fellow migrants indicate that they are afraid of branches falling or trees growing too tall – resulting in damage to their house foundations.

Councils usually remove large or overhanging trees before they become a problem. But if you have a concern about a tree, you should check with your local council. You need permission to cut down trees or to remove vegetation. So be aware of the rules before you get the chainsaw out.

Trees give us shade from the sun and are essential in our hot, dry climate to lower temperatures and reduce carbon dioxide. That’s why councils don’t always provide permission to cut down trees. Councils are a good source of advice as to what trees will grow in your area. They also offer free plants to residents! So make use of this offer to add beauty to your garden and show your neighbours you care about where you live.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these tips and they lead to you having some good neighbourly fun!  

Soraya Raju, Cultural Integration Expert, Migrate Success Jan 2017


A skilled migrant arrived in Sydney and joined the corporate sector. She was invited to a Team Meeting.

A skilled migrant arrived in Sydney and joined the corporate sector. She was invited to a Team Meeting. What’s that? She had no idea of what team meetings were. In Korea, she hadn’t attended a team meeting even though she was a manager in the corporate sector. What was she meant to do? In her experience, decisions were made by the senior manager and passed down the line – you carried out what was required – no questions asked.

At her first meeting, she was surprised when her team members offered their views and opinions, in other words, fully participated in the meeting. She remained quiet and didn’t utter a word. Initially it was a struggle for her.

In unfamiliar situations, e.g. your first team meeting, it’s best to observe how others speak, who are the major contributors and what their views are.

It was a steep learning curve for our migrants get used to team meetings and how they are run.

In Australia, we take team meetings and the value of these meetings for granted. But in many hierarchically structured countries where migrants may have worked in corporate situations, there are no team meetings and one does not question superiors. Also, you address your superior as ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’.

So, how do we go about meetings in Australia?

A team meeting is an occasion when the team is updated on each team member’s work. A chance to share ideas, and solutions if necessary. At your first team meeting in the organisation, observe. Some team meetings may be informal without an agenda. But usually, an agenda is distributed before the meeting.

Here are some tips:

Arrive on time – punctuality is important as often there are back to back meetings and it shows courtesy to the other participants.

  • What if you are asked to host a team meeting? Some corporations have the practise of taking turns to host meetings. If you are a team leader or manager most likely you will have to host team meetings. How do you go about it?
  • Be prepared for your meetings. Prepare an agenda, be clear about time (duration of meeting) and location. Most importantly, be clear about the agenda items so that attendees are prepared – don’t ambush people.
  • Treat everyone equally. In egalitarian Australia, where men and women are treated equally, it’s done to look at women in the eye.
  • Invite your team members to contribute to the agenda, as they may have items that need attention.
  • Avoid being distracting – clicking your pen, looking at your iPhone. Pay complete attention during the meeting – BE PRESENT. Don’t engage in racist comments or sarcasm even if others in the meeting do.
  • Be professional at all times. Body language is a whole new topic but in brief, look interested, no rolling of eyes or pulling your chair right back or away from others.

Soraya Raju, Cultural Integration Expert, Migrate Success Jan 2017

Lost in Translation

Recently, the unit doors in our apartment block were replaced. My elderly neighbour, let’s call him Jim, was outside speaking to the handyman.

Recently, the unit doors in our apartment block were replaced. My elderly neighbour, let’s call him Jim, was outside speaking to the handyman. Just as I stepped out, he said to the handyman, “Here comes trouble. She causes problems around here”. My Korean neighbour was aghast at Jim’s comments and later told me that Jim was a rude man and I should have told him off.

I explained to her that Jim and I are good friends and he is a fantastic neighbour, always there to help me. In fact, the handyman commented on how lucky we are lucky to have good neighbours. I understand Jim and his humour. I can be as rude as I like with him. But we have a special friendship with neighbourly fondness. Lost in translation?

Australians do indeed have a unique sense of humour. We tend to say rude things to people we like.

A famous African American actor was visiting Sydney and went to a pub. The publican said, “Come on you bastard, I’ll shout you a drink” and slapped him across the shoulder. The actor was horrified but a quick lesson was given on Australian humour. Going on the words alone it’s easy to see why the perception might have been of racism and rudeness.

What can a migrant make of this Australian style of humour? When I first arrived in Australia, I couldn’t believe the swearing, language and slang, and how quickly people spoke. I spoke good English and yet I struggled to understand what was being said. It was a struggle in the beginning, but I grew to realise the humour and became accustomed to slang. I used to be called ‘Bob’ by the sales reps at one of my previous workplaces. I felt honoured that they had accepted me as one of their own.

There are so many instances where you will see or hear unfamiliar words. Like the time a woman (working in a male-orientated mining environment) was invited to ‘firing up the Barbie’ at 5:00 pm. The only Barbie she knew was a doll. Was it some kind of sexist ritual? She didn’t want to be part of it. Luckily, she asked a colleague and learned that a ‘Barbie’ is a barbeque. She had a great time and got to know her colleagues during this Australian ritual, getting some experience of Aussie mateship in the process.

One often hears the word ‘arvo’ – my staff used to talk about having ‘a meeting this arvo’. A migrant told me how she came across a sign outside a bakery saying ‘Arvo special’. She went in to enquire what sort of a bread it was. Well, it was an afternoon special for all breads in the shop offering slashed prices.

To avoid feeling excluded and confused, it is important to quickly grasp the slang words and understand Australian culture. It is unique, and if you don’t understand, ask your colleagues. Join in the fun – don’t make a judgement. And beware of slang from your own country, for example some American English can sound rude in Australia and vice-versa.

It is sometimes daunting to seek clarification of the meaning of unusual words you hear.  It may be pride or being afraid to ask in case you are ridiculed. But if you don’t ask, you’ll never know the meaning of these strange words or the affectionate behaviour using ‘rude words’ and so continue being confused and isolated. There’s always the Australian Slang dictionary … but it doesn’t tell all. When in doubt, ask someone.

Soraya Raju, Cultural Integration Expert, Migrate Success Jan 2017

Communal Dining – do’s and don’ts

Communal dining is fun – a food ritual to share as many dishes as possible. A while back, at a conference, 10 of us went to a Chinese restaurant to enjoy some Chinese-style dining.

Communal dining is fun – a food ritual to share as many dishes as possible.

A while back, at a conference, 10 of us went to a Chinese restaurant to enjoy some Chinese-style dining. In today’s multicultural Australia, diners are quite used to communal dining and understand the concept of ordering and sharing a number of dishes. Not only that, most Australians are adept at using chopsticks.

Two of the diners were Americans. When the menu came, the two each ordered a dish for themselves. This posed a dilemma for the others. They looked at one another then some ordered a dish each while six decided to order a few dishes which were shared.

You can imagine the problem that resulted when the bill arrived. The people who had their own dishes paid for what they ate; the others split the bill as is the normal custom in Australia. It was a very uncomfortable lunch with not much conversation.

If you have dietary requirements, it is perfectly legitimate to have your own dish. In this case, there weren’t any dietary requirements.

Perhaps, what should have been done before organising the lunch was to check whether everyone wanted to go to a Chinese restaurant (some didn’t like Chinese food) and let them know it was to be a communal dining event which means sharing the food and splitting the bill.  

Communal dining is part of Chinese, Indian, Middle-Eastern and, in general Asian food culture.

Coming from other cultures some people may feel unsure about this method. Hygiene may be an issue for some. So it’s important they know that when helping yourself to food from a communal dish, you use the accompanying spoon not your own cutlery.

Always, let your dietary requirements be known right at the beginning.

Learn to use chopsticks so you can enjoy Chinese, Korean and Japanese meals more fully. Not all South East Asians are familiar with using chopsticks, for example I have met some Indians who are not.

Consider Western dining. It’s easy to assume everyone knows how to eat and behave in these situations. In today’s Australia, with both parents working, there isn’t always the luxury of time to have children at the table learning about dining etiquette.

I once saw a diner take four bread rolls at once. Obviously, she loved rolls but it would have been nice if she’d waited till everyone had a bread roll before helping herself to far more than her fair share. The same person also piled more than her share of potatoes on her plate – this in a fine dining restaurant where the side dishes were shared. This is inconsiderate behaviour in any company but particularly for those for whom communal dining is the norm.

On formal occasions, dining etiquette dictates that you do not talk with food in your mouth, nor use your cutlery too enthusiastically. Napkins are there to protect your clothing and wipe your mouth – some people find it offensive when they are used to blow the nose or mop the brow.

When unsure of dining etiquette in a restaurant situation and the purpose of cutlery, you are encouraged to observe and follow your fellow diners. But what happens when your fellow Australian diner makes a mistake?

Attending a dining etiquette class helps you gain confidence not only to ensure that dining will be an enjoyable experience but also to entertain clients in a business environment.  

Soraya Raju, Cultural Integration Expert, Migrate Success Jan 2017

First impressions

You’ve arrived at your new workplace on the first day. You are being taken around to meet people and shown where you are going to be working.

You’ve arrived at your new workplace on the first day. You are being taken around to meet people and shown where you are going to be working. You look at the people you are meeting and you start to think about what you are wearing – you wore a smartly pressed white shirt and black pants and your shoes are shining and you felt so proud of yourself when you left home.

But all around you are people in jeans and sneakers. You start thinking about how you are dressed and how you don’t fit in and you notice everyone is staring at you and what is worse they are laughing and joking among themselves. You think they must be laughing at you and you start to fret and sweat and forget to listen to what your new manager is saying to you.

The more you worry, the stranger the workplace seems and the less you listen. So when your manager says to you, “Why don’t you get a cup of coffee and start looking over the papers I’ve left at your workstation and I’ll meet up with you in an hour to talk over it”, you panic. You have no idea where to get coffee, you cannot remember where your workstation is located, you feel stupid and you can’t possibly ask because you don’t want to give your manager a bad impression on your first day … or ask any of those people who were laughing at you already.

If you think too much about “personal”, you might start worrying about those laughing, talking people who are much more likely to be telling each other what happened to them last night and laughing about that than laughing at you. And the reason why they are wearing jeans and sneakers is because it is Friday and this is the day casual clothes are allowed in the workplace.

Does this sound overly simple? In a way it is, but we all do this kind of thing whether it’s a workplace in a new country or just a new workplace, this is a situation playing out every day all over the world. It’s not unique to Australia.

One of the most basic keys to a successful personal presence is to focus on the word “presence”. It means really being “present” or in the moment. All that means is: listen carefully to what you are being told; pay attention to what’s important around you; and ask if you need something to be made clearer. You will come across as more confident, more interested and more human, that is more likeable.

And no matter which country you are in, employees that listen carefully, pay attention to what’s important around them and ask for clarification about what you are being told, will make a very good impression on a new manager. So even if you feel you are looking a little out of place, the one thing you do have control over is how you deal with it.

In Australia, generally speaking, people who don’t take themselves too seriously and can laugh at themselves if they are a bit out of place at first, will be made to feel at home. On the other hand, if you immediately say to yourself, “I’m the one who’s dressed the right way and it’s wrong to come to work looking like this” or “I am so stupid to have worn the wrong clothes today”, you may come across as arrogant (not a good thing in many parts of this society) or embarrassed and weak (which can invite exclusion or bullying – yes, it happens!)

A golden rule for personal presence is: listen, watch carefully and ask promptly for the things that matter to be made clear.

Soraya Raju, Cultural Integration Expert, Migrate Success Jan 2017