Member Spotlight: Adam Kiolle

Each month we’ll feature a different AABC member in our new Member Spotlight, beginning with Adam Kiolle, our board member in the position of Legal Affairs.
Would you like to be featured in a future edition of our Member Spotlight? Get in touch with Veronica at marketing@aabc.nl

Who are you? Introduce yourself.

My name is Adam, I am 29 years old and am an Australian attorney at a commercial law firm in Amsterdam, Blenheim Attorneys. I am also a member of the AABC’s board of directors and responsible for the legal affairs portfolio.
Originally from Brisbane, Australia I have been living in the Netherlands since summer 2014.

When and why did you join the AABC?

I have been a member of the AABC for about half a year now. I joined for a number of reasons: firstly, it is a great place to meet interesting, like-minded professionals and businesspeople and to expand your personal and business network.
For me personally, the AABC is also a great place to meet new clients — in my practice, I specialize in advising foreign clients on doing business in the Netherlands and support Dutch companies engaged in international business. Not a meeting goes by where somebody doesn’t come up to me with a legal question or problem that they are having trouble with.

Tell us about your business and how we can work with you.

Blenheim is a full-service commercial law firm that caters to businesses of all sizes: from sole traders and start-ups to SMEs and international corporations.
In addition to the traditional corporate law, real estate, administrative law, labor law, IP and general contract law practices, Blenheim is quite unique in that it also has a specialized English desk staffed by native English speakers. This allows us to advise our foreign clients and draft complex legal documentation without any of the important nuances getting “lost in translation”.
If you need advice on setting up a company, drafting or negotiating a contract, solving a dispute or any other aspects of doing business in the Netherlands, don’t hesitate to contact me or one of my colleagues at Blenheim.

What are your tips and advice about doing business in the Netherlands?

One of the things about the Dutch legal system that often catches foreign companies, especially American ones off-guard are the strong protections of employees’ rights under Dutch law. Great news if you are an employee, less great if you are an employer. Here are three issues to be careful of if you run or are starting up a company or a branch in the Netherlands or things that you should be aware of if you are an employee working in the Netherlands.

  1. At-will termination? Not a thing here. If you want to fire an employee, you will have to make sure that you have (very) good reasons. Why? Because you generally cannot fire an employee without special permission from the courts or the Dutch labor authority, the UWV. An employee can only be terminated without notice for serious cause. In the absence of sufficient cause for termination under Dutch law, the only solution will be a decent severance payment. This is something that should be factored into your HR planning.
  2. Is your business growing? Great! Are you reaching the 50 employees mark? Fantastic – but don’t forget, you now need to have a “works council”. Employers in the Netherlands with 50 or more employees need to set up a works council – a committee of employee representatives who have to be consulted with on certain issues and who even need to give consent for certain strategic, organizational or personnel-related decisions.
  3. Are you sure that your contractors are contractors? Given how heavily Dutch law leans in favor of employees, relying on contractors instead of employees can be an attractive alternative to taking people on as employees. Be careful though, simply calling someone a “ZZP’er” (contractor) does not necessarily make them a contractor. If the courts look at your situation and see that someone who is a contractor on paper is actually being used as an employee, the courts will simply treat the relationship as an employment relationship – with all of the employer obligations and employee protections that come with it.

Blenheim Attorneys’ labor law practice advises and represents employers and employees on these kinds of matters and any other employment law-related issues. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the issues discussed here or any other labor law matters.

Photo credit: Magpeye Photography www.magpeyephotography.com

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Beacon Financial Education IRS 2017

Key Retirement and Tax Numbers for 2017

Beacon Financial tax advice 2017

Every year, the Internal Revenue Service announces cost-of-living adjustments that affect contribution limits for retirement plans, thresholds for deductions and credits, and standard deduction and personal exemption amounts. Here are a few of the key adjustments for 2017.

Retirement plans

• Employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), and most 457 plans can defer up to $18,000 in compensation in 2017 (the same as in 2016); employees age 50 and older can defer up to an additional $6,000 in 2017 (the same as in 2016).
• Employees participating in a SIMPLE retirement plan can defer up to $12,500 in 2017 (the same as in 2016), and employees age 50 and older will be able to defer up to an additional $3,000 in 2017 (the same as in 2016).


The limit on annual contributions to an IRA remains unchanged at $5,500 in 2017, with individuals age 50 and older able to contribute an additional $1,000. For individuals who are covered by a workplace retirement plan, the deduction for contributions to a traditional IRA is phased out for the following modified adjusted gross income (AGI) ranges:

2016 2017
Single/head of household (HOH) $61,000 – $71,000 $62,000 – $72,000
Married filing jointly (MFJ) $98,000 – $118,000 $99,000 – $119,000
Married filing separately (MFS) $0 – $10,000 $0 – $10,000

The 2017 phaseout range is $186,000 – $196,000 (up from $184,000 – $194,000 in 2016) when the individual making the IRA contribution is not covered by a workplace retirement plan but is filing jointly with a spouse who is covered.

The modified AGI phaseout ranges for individuals making contributions to a Roth IRA are:

2016 2017
Single/HOH $117,000 – $132,000 $118,000 – $133,000
MFJ $184,000 – $194,000 $186,000 – $196,000
MFS $0 – $10,000 $0 – $10,000

Estate and gift tax

• The annual gift tax exclusion remains at $14,000.
• The gift and estate tax basic exclusion amount for 2017 is $5,490,000, up from $5,450,000 in 2016.

Beacon Financial tax education 2017

Personal exemption

The personal exemption amount remains at $4,050. For 2017, personal exemptions begin to phase out once AGI exceeds $261,500 (single), $287,650 (HOH), $313,800 (MFJ), or $156,900 (MFS).

These same AGI thresholds apply in determining if itemized deductions may be limited. The corresponding 2016 threshold amounts were $259,400 (single), $285,350 (HOH), $311,300 (MFJ), and $155,650 (MFS).

Standard deduction

These amounts have been adjusted as follows:

2016 2017
Single $6,300 $6,350
HOH $9,300 $9,350
MFJ $12,600 $12,700
MFS $6,300 $6,350

The 2016 and 2017 additional standard deduction amount (age 65 or older, or blind) is $1,550 for single/HOH or $1,250 for all other filing statuses. Special rules apply if you can be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer.

Alternative minimum tax (AMT)

AMT amounts have been adjusted as follows:

2016 2017
Maximum AMT exemption amount
Single/HOH $53,900 $54,300
MFJ $83,800 $84,500
MFS $41,900 $42,250
Exemption phaseout threshold
Single/HOH $119,700 $120,700
MFJ $159,700 $160,900
MFS $79,850 $80,450
26% on AMTI* up to this amount, 28% on AMTI above this amount
MFS $93,150 $93,900
All others $186,300 $187,800
*Alternative minimum taxable income

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2016.

This article has been contributed by Beacon Financial Education. Interested in receiving more financial education news? Then sign up for their newsletter here. February 8th Beacon Financial Education will host another of their Financial Awareness Seminars in Amsterdam. Entrance is free, please pre-register here.

Beacon Financial Education does not provide financial, tax or legal advice. None of the information in this article should be considered financial, tax or legal advice. Always consult your finance, tax or legal advisers for information concerning your own specific situation.

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Art in the Workplace

By Jessica Lipowski, jessicalipowski.com

Stark white walls and bare cubicles do not create a comfortable and inspiring workspace. However, it is hard to justify investing in art and other decorative fixtures when budgets are tight and the long-term value is not immediately apparent. Most view art as a luxury or an added bonus, not a necessity.

While works of art certainly liven up sterile spaces, art adds more to an environment than aesthetically pleasing eye candy. According to a 2012 study sponsored by the British Council for Offices (BCO), “There is growing evidence to suggest that, as well as boosting staff morale, a conducive and appealing working environment can significantly up productivity.” Whether in the form of a painting, sculpture, or photograph, art can stimulate creativity, which in turns prompts problem solving and productivity. The colors, shape, and movement of a piece can even alleviate stress, as well as leave a lasting impression on both employees and visitors. Art inspires.

m2m_molly“Art always adds to an environment,” said Petra Benach, a mixed media artist originally from California. “It creates mood, enhances a room, and ideally creates an impression, namely that it invests in creating it’s home.”

Petra, who currently resides in Amsterdam, designed two interactive art programs that aim to personalize art on the walls. Made to Measure (M2M), for instance, is a collaborative project between the artist and the client. The end goal is to ensure the final piece reflects the collector’s personality, as well as the (work) space.

“M2M is a way to get intimate access to an artist. Having a piece of art specifically made for you creates a really deep relationship to the work,” said Petra. “When we look at buying a piece of art, the artist is secondary because they’re not present … it’s usually just luck that you got to see it and that it resonated with you. When you get access to the artist and their process, the piece you end up with is incredibly unique and absolutely yours.”

The M2M process is tailored to each person. The collector first identifies the paintings that speak to them, paying particular attention to color, textures, and compositions. The artist, Petra, also encourages the client to remember what they played with as a child and what inspires them now. Exploration helps create. Petra then visits the collector’s space, taking into account the measurements, mood, and current palette. The customer can then participate as much or as little as they’d like and provide both feedback and direction along the way.

For the longest time, Ashley Cowles was not satisfied with her home office. She always felt like something was lacking. Ashley provides translation services to a variety of clients. She met Petra through the Amsterdam-American Business Club, and when she heard about the M2M initiative, Ashley felt it was the perfect opportunity to spruce up her space.

“I look at [the art] whenever I’m stuck; the composition is both soothing and inviting. I always feel better after looking at it for a while and just letting my thoughts wander,” said Ashley, “and the best part about having it on the wall behind me is that clients see it whenever I’m on Skype with them, so it’s a great conversation starter.”


Overall, she feels the piece adds a deeply personal touch to her office, helping to make it her own.

“It’s not just any office,” remarked Ashley. “By hanging Petra’s work on the wall, I have really claimed this space as mine.”

Oscar Wilde once said, “Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.” Let the art on your walls talk. Whether you are a one-person company or national corporation, allow your employee’s personalities and your company’s values to shine through and inspire. Make your workspace your own inspirational oasis through art.

Photo credit: Petra Beanch, www.petrabenach.com

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ICAP Amsterdam Needs AABC Members


Have you got something to say about what could be done to make Amsterdam a more attractive place to live or do business? The International Community Advisory Panel would like to hear from you.

ICAP has been set up by a group of international Amsterdammers, including AABC supporter and DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe. The aim is to provide a platform to give the city’s 100,000 expats a voice in city affairs. In particular, ICAP aims to collect and reflect the views of the international community on issues which have an impact on the city’s attractiveness as a location in which to live and work.

‘The city regularly scores very highly in international comparisons – facts which officials are keen to promote whenever possible,’ says Robin, ICAP Amsterdam chairwoman. ‘However, these glowing reports do not always reflect the reality on the ground. Most expats, for example, simply can’t afford the sky-high rents which some landlords think they can charge for a simple one bedroom flat. And I am sure many AABC members have ideas about what could be done to improve the business and living climate.’

ICAP will focus on four main issues: education, housing, healthcare and work/inclusion. To kick off, ICAP is focusing on education and has launched a survey to find out more about parents’ views and experiences, whether their children are at Dutch or international schools. Take part in the survey here. And to find out more about ICAP, please visit the website www.icapamsterdam.com

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Idea Coaching for Startups and Companies with New Ideas

By Rob Lacroix, Expat Coaching Company

rob_lacroixThose who were there when I made my pitch at the previous AABC meeting might remember I am a life coach. What I did not tell you is that I also have another activity within my company. I am also an “idea coach” at VINS. You might be wondering what it is an idea coach does.


“Imagine this: You have a great idea”

You have a great idea for a startup or for a new service to be introduced within your already existing firm. It is such a great idea that you are completely and over the moon enthusiastic about it. In those moments it is hard to keep your cool, and keep your professional distance and ask yourself those confronting, but so necessary difficult questions to make sure you went over everything correctly. And after you asked yourself those questions, it might still be hard to shape that great idea in a clear and structured base for further steps, like a business plan or an action plan. How do you prevent chasing your own tail, as the Dutch proverb says?

“Ways to keep a professional and analytic view on things”

At such a moment it might be useful to look for someone who can help you to keep an open mind and who will coach you, in order for you to keep a professional and analytic view on the matter. You might turn to a friend or relative. This is always good to start with. They will be able to give you a first feedback on your idea. Important to keep in mind is that, your friends and relatives will mean well, but the risk with that is, that they care for you and might not be objective to what you say, in order not to hurt your feelings. Therefore, they might be (to) positive, where they should be more critical.

Here are some examples of questions to ask them: would they buy your product or service? If so, what do they think is the most compelling reason for doing this? Was this what you tried to achieve? On the other hand, if not, then this is a moment for reflection. Why not? Did you explain your idea well? Might they just not be part of your potential market? Is there a market? Or is your idea still so vague, that you were not able to explain it to them in such a way that they “got it”. In this case you could seek out a professional coach, in this case an Idea Coach. An Idea Coach, with the use of regular coaching techniques, will help you structure your idea in such a way, that you will be able to decide whether it is viable, if you are able to explain it to others in a clear and comprehensive way, and if it is viable, know how to proceed in putting it in a business plan.

“How does that work?”

You (you single or you plural) sit down with the coach and go over your general idea. The purpose is to get the idea structured in your head, by asking you questions and engage in exercises in order to help/force you to think deep level about the essence of what you want to deliver. Different coaches use just as many different techniques.

I work with a system of three, a first glance, simple questions. The questions are important, but not the most important part of the exercise. What is really important, is that you get to the essence of each question and to the connecting answer. What usually happens without professional guidance is, that questions are asked, and sometimes even the right ones, but the answers are to easily found, without any real soul searching and effort. This is usually a good sign that you have to ask again and again that same question, until you are sure you have reached an answer, that will give you a solid base to build your business plan on. A friend or relative, with nothing but good intentions, might accept these easy answers. A good coach will never settle for an easy answer and will keep “badgering” you with the question on hand, until you are both convinced that you have reached the essence. Only then you move on to the next question, etc. This sounds easy, but it is not. And this is why it takes up to 4 hours to do this exercise.

“Three certainties”

I have been doing these exercises for a while now and there are a few certainties. First, I still have to meet the person who had it all clear in his or her head, in such a way that he or she could answer all 3 questions without difficulties and straight to the essence, even though some of them thought they did.
Second, it takes a lot of effort and it is quite confronting. Most people are quiet tired after one of these session. But who said it is easy to be an entrepreneur.
And third, most people will have more clear and structured and sometimes, surprisingly different, thoughts about their idea.

“So I sat down with a coach, what’s next?”

Then it is time for homework. Because you have to take those new insights and let them first sink in. Chew on them and then work with them. What are they telling you and what can you do with that? Part of following up on a session with a coach could/should be returning to your friends and telling them your “updated” idea. See what, if any, has changed in how they respond and what does this tell you.
After talking to your friends, you could do a follow up with your coach. Either in another mini session or in a monthly reflection session, in which you can address the issues you run into during the further panning out or execution of your idea. Here also the approaches differ over the relative coaches. Ask your coach what he or she things will work out best for you and your situation, but make your own decision, because as always with coaching, it has to feel good for you.

“Being successful is always within reach, but it certainly helps to give yourself a head start”

Every year loads of people have ideas for new businesses or new products or services. Only a small part of those get to the stage of execution. From those, some will not succeed, because the idea owners did not structure their idea thoroughly and therefore were not prepared right.
I am sure a lot more of those ideas would have been executed successfully, if they only would have had the right (idea) coaching. So if you have a great idea for a startup or for a new service within you already existing firm and want to turn the odds in your favor, consider to give your idea a head start with the right professional guidance and contact an Idea Coach.

Dare to life your own life and be happy!

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How to Get a Mortgage When Your Income is Not in Euro

By José de Boer, De Boer Financial Consultants


De Boer Financial Consultants are specialized in expat mortgages. José de Boer is the owner and director and has many years of experience dealing with a wide variety of expat-related legal and financial matters.

Earlier this year the Dutch Government adopted new European legislation regarding mortgages, the Mortgage Credit Directive.

In this new European regulation for mortgage financing it is stipulated, for instance, that if you earn your salary in a foreign currency (other than euros) you could actually ask your bank for a mortgage in this particular currency. And although I would always advise anyone against financing a house in another currency from the one in which the house is bought, these new regulations had unintended consequences.

No euro income? No mortgage

The result was that it effectively scared off the banks altogether from financing anyone with a different currency income, despite the fact that their fears are based on a misinterpretation of the legislation. Banks are not forced to give you the non-Euro mortgage if you have a non-Euro income. But they are refusing you just in case you would possibly ask for a different currency mortgage in the future. All Dutch banks have now collectively decided to turn down all mortgage applications from clients who are not earning their salary in euros.

An obstacle for house hunting expats

In my opinion, which many people share, this misinterpretation of legislation is a problem for the expat community, but also for the Dutch economy that has always been so welcoming to internationals who want to work and live here. The Netherlands needs expats. Migrants of all types enrich this country in so many ways, so it is important to do everything we can to welcome them and to keep them here.


Luckily we have found solutions for many clients with non-euro income, but not for everybody. The reason is that we work with a bank outside The Netherlands (excellent interest rates and conditions). If you are earning in USD, Swiss Francs, Norwegian Kronen or any other currency outside the EU we can probably be of assistance.

If you are facing limited mortgage options, don’t hesitate to contact De Boer Financial Advisors. They are able to find solutions for many internationals with non-euro incomes.

“Dutch House” photo credit: piningforthewest on Flickr

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business in the netherlands

Having Your Own Business in the Netherlands:
3 Pros and Cons

By Joanna Ioannidou, Entrepreneur

Joanna AABCSetting up a business in the Netherlands holds promise. Though small in size, the country is strategically positioned in Europe and has an internationally-oriented economy.

What about the reality of running your own business here however? I’ve grown to like lists, so looking back at my experiences as a business owner in the Netherlands I put together the following list of pros and cons.

The Pros

You can work in English. As a rule the Dutch speak English almost fluently, and many don’t mind doing business in English. You will encounter the occasional client that won’t feel comfortable speaking anything other than Dutch in a work setting, but overall that should not hinder your business potential much.

You can find good associates/employees. There are many talented people in the Netherlands – both Dutch and internationals – and you will have an excellent pool of resources to draw from. In addition, much of the country’s workforce is operating on a freelance basis (ZZP’s), so if you are not ready for employees you can still get access to many talented co-workers.

You will know where you stand. The Dutch are direct — to the point of occasionally coming across as blunt. Expect honesty and openness in both in their personal life and at work. Though this may take some adjustment, all in all it is a benefit as you will likely always know where you stand with your Dutch clients and/or collaborators.

The Cons

It’s challenging to figure out legal and financial matters. The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch, so that is the language in which you will find almost all documentation provided by the government. This makes it difficult to figure out tax rules and legal issues on your own, especially when you are starting up and there are many things to learn about they Dutch system.

Dutch law favors employees significantly. The employment law of the Netherlands is relatively complex, and all in all it gives employees a strong legal position. Although this is generally good, it can be unfair to small businesses and startups where consistent funds are a challenge.

Dutch employees feel more entitled. Employees working under Dutch law enjoy relative job security and many benefits — such as 40-hour work weeks, and at least 20 days of paid leave a year. These employee conditions help ensure increased employee satisfaction, but tend to be taken for granted resulting in a mentality of entitlement in many Dutch employees.

In the end, it is up to you to decide if the pros outweigh the cons and start your business here. In my experience, if you plan right and pick your partners and clients carefully, you can certainly make it work!

“The Netherlands” photo credit: Nicola Albertini on Flickr

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Carol AABC

My Experience With the AABC

By Carol P. Govaert, Magpeye Photography

carolMy story starts in Assen where I used to live 8 years ago. We lived there 5 years and eventually my husband switched jobs. It required a lot of travel and we figured out pretty quickly that we needed to be near an international airport. He proposed a deal. If I could find a job in Amsterdam that would cover our mortgage until we sold our home, we could move. I immediately went into action mode. The first person I thought of contacting was Charles Ruffolo (Ruf), The Networking King. At this time, he was also the President of the AABC. Ruf said he would help me if I would fill the position for events in the AABC. I agreed. Two weeks later I had a job with T & A Relocation Services, I was a board member of the AABC; where I had never attended an event, and a month later we were living in Amsterdam. Phew! The AABC gave me a warm welcome and then I was initiated into the club by planning one of the biggest events in less than 3 months: Election Night 2008.

As it happens in life, two years after joining the AABC my life went through many strange and unexpected changes, which pushed me into another direction. One of the decisions I made was to study photography at the Fotoacademie in Amsterdam. During my studies, the only ties I had to the outside world were managing the events at the AABC.

Eventually I started Magpeye Photography. I reached out to John Milhado, a long time member and supporter of the AABC, from Color Business Center. He graciously agreed to host the launch of Magpeye with an exhibition of my work during an AABC “borrel”. Dennis Cowles, the AABC Chairman and owner of Dynamic Cooking, supplied the deIicious finger food. While planning the exhibition I was introduced to my agent, Loes Kok from Bullcreative, through Color Business Center.

Now I was open for business, a friend and fellow board member, Neifor Acosta asked me what was my specialty. I proceeded to explain to him, which in my mind was clear and concise. He told me he had no idea what I was talking about because the explanation was too technical. Neifor said, “Carol, you need to work on your elevator pitch.” One morning I woke up and I knew what it was. I specialize in the 3 C’s: Creative, Commercial and Community.

  • Creative works gives me the freedom to explore and experiment.
  • Commercial work is where my business background comes into play.
  • Community work is teaching photography to children and working on The Visible Project.

The moral of my story is that because of the AABC I have met interesting people, made useful contacts, and have made many friends. Just like anything in life, you reap what you sow.

Visit Magpeye Photography
Check the blog for more information on The Visible Project.

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u or jij in business Dutch

Should You Use U or Jij When Doing Business in Dutch?

By Albert Both, Dutch Flow Now

albert-both-talencoachDoing business in English is a bit easier than in Dutch in one specific sense. You can just call your customer you and that is it. But Dutch (like many other languages) is a bit more complex. In Dutch you can choose between two words, jij or u. Which one do you think is best to use?

Most books and language courses will tell you this: always use u, because then you show more respect. If you say u, then you create more distance and this is a very polite thing to do. Jij is something you say to people that are younger than you, your friends and children and why not, also your pets. When you say u, it means that you are a serious person now.

Yes, it is true that in many official situations people will call you u. All the banks do it and if you get a letter from the gemeente (municipality) or belastingdienst (tax office), then you’ll certainly see that they always call you u.

Sometimes u is less positive than you might expect

But here is the thing, although it looks very formal and official, not every company chooses to use the word u. Many companies such as Ikea or Hema would rather use the word jij. Somehow, they like to suggest that they are a good friend. They would certainly like to help you to make your life nicer and of course, they have a lot of suggestions (all the things that you could buy from them) and then, it feels that if they can speak to you with jij, then the relation gets more intimate. It feels more like friendship. Real friends trust each other, you would always listen to a friend, right? This is exactly why many companies deliberately choose to use jij instead of u.

Here is another thing, what do you notice if you get letters from the belastingdienst (tax office) or gemeente (municipality)? Sure, they politely call you u, but often there is something unpleasant attached to it. Often, there is something that you need to pay. Official institutions do things that normally would end a personal friendship!

One mistake that many Dutch entrepreneurs make

The decision whether you call people u or jij is an important decision. First of all, it has to match with your personality. If you see yourself as formal and official then u might be the right choice for you. But if you see yourself as dynamic, easily approachable, friendly and casual then jij can be a very wise choice.


Here is one important warning however, you have to be consistent! First of all, once you have started to call another person jij it is quite ‘insulting’ to call a person u again. It simply means that somehow you forgot about your friendship or you clearly show that you don’t remember this person any more! Yes, it could certainly lead to embarrassing situations. Therefore, if you call some people jij and other people u, then you must have a good memory! My memory is not so good, so for me it feels a lot saver to call everyone jij.

Here is another mistake that also many Dutch people make. Many Dutch people prefer to say jij, because it is more easy-going and certainly if you want to connect with new people it is a great way to connect a lot faster. But once they send invoices or other official stuff, then sometimes all of a sudden they switch over to u. One of my designers for example used to call me geachte heer Both when she sent invoices and somehow, it was confusing and distracting.

Therefore, if you call a person jij while doing business, then do not switch over to u if you send invoices for example. You do not want to come across as a schizophrenic person! Say: ik heb je betaling ontvangen, instead of ik heb uw betaling ontvangen if you’d like to mention that you received the payment. This is also very important if you have a webshop. If you share your tips and trips while using jij, then don’t all of a sudden switch over to u when people need to pull their credit card.

A very simple rule would be the tie rule. Would you wear a tie while doing business? (If you are a woman just imagine something else that looks neat and sophisticated.) Then u could be a wise choice. But if your outlook is more casual or creative, then jij could be the right thing to say.

Then of course, some companies people might be flexible. While they call each other jij all the time, all of a sudden, in very official meetings they may switch over to u, only during this meeting. But the good thing is that you’ll notice this quite easily. Just listen to what other people say.

Last but not least, for networking, just make your own choice. Jij might be the right thing to say for you, because it will make you more approachable. Saying jij to a person may certainly mean that you respect the person that you are talking with, because somehow you clearly show that it is okay to move closer.

So here is a question: what word have you been using so far? U or jij?

To discover more go to talencoach.nl or dutchflownow.nl

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Networking or Pitching? 

By Veronica Guguian, Marketing and Business Development Consultant
Photo: Carol Padula Govaert, Magpeye Photography


As the poet John Donne said: No man is an island. We are social beings in need of interaction with other people. We need to feel accepted and to feel we belong to something. This rule applies to personal life, as well as business life.

According to Wikipedia, networking is “a socioeconomic business activity by which business people and entrepreneurs meet to form business relationships and to recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities, share information and seek potential partners for ventures”.

In other words, networking is market research. You go to events, meet new people, analyze if their skills and ideas can be useful for your next venture, while also taking a peek into what your competitors are doing and seeing what opportunities are there for you. People do business with people. This why it is so important to go and meet them face to face. The next person you meet could become your client or even your business partner.

With this in mind, you would expect to see a constant flow of new people and new startups coming to networking events. And there are so many events you can choose from, especially in Amsterdam. For me, the challenge is to choose from the multitude of invites that flow into my inbox every day.

However, in reality, you tend to see the same faces at most events. From time to time you see new ones, and it’s so refreshing! However, the majority of new faces do not stick to it. Don’t get me wrong, I know it is not easy to do so. You need to invest time, energy and money into networking and you will not see results straight away. If you want to see return on your investment, you need to be constant.

This could not match all personalities, but personally, I love networking. It is a great way to catch-up with your business contacts and friends (yes, a lot of them became my friends), meet new people, learn about new opportunities and, the best reason of all: to practice your pitch.


Every single time you meet someone new at a networking event, you need to introduce your company and what you do. And you have less then 30 seconds to grab the attention of the other person and get him/her interested in your organization. But the good news is that every single time you present yourself, you practice and your pitch becomes better. Every question asked after your pitch, it’s a feedback that will help you improve the way you present yourself and your company. We all know that repetition is the only way to make it perfect.

So, even if you are an introverted and socializing with new people means going out of your comfort zone, sometimes it is worth doing it. Just keep in mind the end goal.

A word of advice, these events are the perfect place to meet people and practice your pitch, however, keep in mind it is not the place where business will be decided or papers signed. In order to achieve that, you need to make the effort to follow-up with the people you met.

My hope? To see more new people and learn about new businesses during my networking event.
So, when you see me at one of the networking events, come and practice your pitch!

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