I'm often a little surprised how easy people think doing business in Korea is going to be as a foreigner. Sure, teaching English is a piece of cake. But to move beyond this takes a long-term time-horizon and hard work.
I was contacted by a member on KBC asking about getting connections in a specific Korean industry last week and I suggested he post his comment to one of our online discussions about business networking. Here's the advice I gave him:
"Koreans are great at organizing groups, seminars and online forums for specific interests. Accessing them without Korean-language ability can be tough, but with persistence, shouldn't be impossible. I understand from your email this week which you sent, you're looking for connections in the Korean film and television industries. As a first step, I'd encourage you to visit our next meeting of the Brand and Culture Forum, which will probably be the last week of August. We have some people in that group working in the Korean TV industry; you should definitely share your business card with them.
However, networking in Korea is about more than just meeting people and exchanging business cards. One of these days, I'm going to write a piece describing every link in the multi-year chain leading to some of the opportunities that have come my way. They came from establishing and maintaining long-term relationships that were based on more than just a specific objective in mind and from giving as much as getting. To move past the easy stuff (English teaching, for example) takes a lot of hard work over a long period of time. If you put in the effort, adapt to the Korean approach, and stick around long enough for the rewards, you'll eventually find yourself moving up."
In fact, this discussion got me thinking a bit more about business networking in Korea and I put together the following video this morning for our KBC Community Soapbox about just how long-term a networking process can take, and I'm sure in a few years, I'll be able to add yet more links to this chain, which will likely continue through to the end of my career: