Monday, June 2, 2008

One Handshake at a Time

Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ambassadors and Consuls General generally speak for our countries. We identify them as the diplomats, the people who inform the world what we stand for as a nation, setting policies and enlisting support for national positions. We do not often recognize as diplomats the people who represent their country out of the eye of the camera quietly, daily, around the world. These are professionals, entrepreneurs, the non-governmental diplomats, whose business activities and actions tell the story of their country.

From this perspective, diplomacy is not negotiating treaties or issuing policy statements. Rather, it’s building a dialogue, creating relationships, engaging in conversations about oneself, one’s country within the context of business. As we work together we form opinions not just about the individuals working with us but extend our opinion of them to the company they represent and often to the country that is their home. And in turn, their impressions of us shape their thoughts about our company and our country.

Through a handshake, a meeting, a shared project, a dinner, a series of emails
we influence the opinions of our nation. We are diplomats and we can make a difference.

To learn more about business as diplomacy and how one organization seeks to shift the impression of America in the world, check the website for Business for Diplomatic Action (BDA) Or learn more about Citizen Diplomacy at the Coalition for Citizen Diplomacy, For new thinking about the topic check the USC’s Center for Public Diplomacy (

Person to person, public diplomacy. We can make a difference. One handshake at a time.