Yes! We Connect is international! Colleague Ernest is in the US.

In the next blog about our international adventures we zoom in on Ernest. He's in America, he's off! You will learn more about Ernest’s life and experiences across the ocean. What is he doing now, how does he keep in touch with the team in the Netherlands and what are Ernest's plans? Muriel and Frank explain their role. What do you need to arrange here in the Netherlands to ensure that Ernest can do his work in the US?

Almost throughout his whole working career Ernest has been working in teams. And the times that he had the most fun and was successful, were the times that he worked in a team that felt connected with each other. But Ernest has also experienced the feeling of being disconnected at work and the impact this has, both in work as in social life. These experiences made him aware of how important it is to feel happy at work. It inspired him to make a career switch and see how he can help organizations in the US in the process of becoming connected, with people feeling happier at work and achieving more together.

Ernest: ‘During the weekdays I’ll be in the office in Washington DC. Luckily it is walking distance. It is a desk sharing office so nice to get to know other entrepreneurs . With all the technology nowadays it is very easy to also stay connected with my colleagues from Yes! We Connect. Working with different apps (Slack & Monday), I can follow all the projects going on in the Netherlands. Really cool to see all we have done so far this year and to see all the events scheduled for the rest of the year. This motivates me a lot to make Yes! We Connect a success in US. Every month we have a call with the different countries to share our best practices and successes. In Slack we have our own channel to keep everybody up to speed about the daily stuff. It makes you feel you’re part of a bigger team although I am working by myself in the US.’

Skype meeting with Ernest at Yes! We Connect

Skype meeting with Ernest at Yes! We Connect

Get this party started
We needed to take a lot of steps to launch Yes! We Connect in the US. To get Ernest started the first thing we needed to do was get the US website in place. We already had an English version of our website, but that wasn’t really targeting the US market good enough. A lot of things could be improved. We also needed to translate some documents and team tools. Another big chunk of work was informing our international contacts about our activities in the US. This is still going on at the moment. People are surprised and exited when we inform them and most of the time they are eager to help. And that is great of course!

Another step we needed to take seemed simple: add our US office on Google Maps. But like everything you need to do for the first time in a different country, it wasn’t that simple. First we needed to send a real postcard (welcome to the 20th century!) to the US. When Ernest received the card - after two attempts - he had to claim the office location on Google Maps with a personalized code.

We have been sending a huge package to Ernest in the US filled with tools and materials to use during events over there. Before doing that we had to fill out a ton of paperwork to get badges, lanyards, small sign posts and so on into the US. After some back and forth emailing with FedEx the package finally arrived in Washington. Ernest: ‘Now I have received the first package with all our tools, banners and everything to set up an event. So we are ready for our first customer! HQ is activating a marketing plan to get in touch with our target audience. I am setting up a lot of coffee dates and am going to networking events to talk to our target audience. These joined forces will create opportunities to make a start in US. The first quote has been send, I’m keeping my fingers crossed!’

‘Honestly it is actually really hard to find that first customer,’ says Frank. We have been going through this process 18 years ago when we started our entrepreneurial journey, but of course over time you forget how tough that was. Now Ernest is working the US market for a couple of months and he expects to close a first deal shortly. That would be a huge breakthrough of course!

Ernest when he received the package: ‘‘It feels like Christmas, my birthday and Saint Nicholas all on one day!’’

Ernest when he received the package: ‘‘It feels like Christmas, my birthday and Saint Nicholas all on one day!’’

Learnings and plans
‘The US is a melting pot of different cultures and backgrounds which also shows in the workforce,’ says Ernest. Therefore there is a big focus on diversity and how to make diversity a strength for the organization. You see a lot of companies, especially the international nonprofit, work with consultants. Because they are hired for short projects they don’t really feel connected to the organization. A big similarity with the Netherlands is that employees are looking for interaction, want to be heard and built relationships within the organization. The focus from the start is on helping organizations to make a success out of their onboarding process by engaging new employees from the beginning.

Frank: ‘At the moment we are planning to start a masterclass Onboarding in 1 day. We have been organizing this in the Netherlands from the beginning of the year and will be exporting this to the US and Belgium as well from end of August. For the first episode of the masterclass I will join Ernest in Washington. That will be super exciting!’ We will keep you posted.

If you know anyone in the US who’s maybe interested in us or has contacts like HR managers or communication specialists that would be interested in our tools to connect at work, please share this blog with them! Do you want to know more about us or get in touch? Click here.

In the next blog we zoom in on Kelly in Belgium. In the meantime, check out our social media channels for more updates and news about YWC goes international!

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