Multinational and complex business arrangements are the new normal in today’s digitally empowered commerce climate.
More and more companies are looking to expand their business overseas, looking to enter new markets and increase their profit on a global scale. Though it takes skill and experienced individuals to help navigate the intricate structure of international laws and global trade.
While many companies are confident that the transition to global exchanges can be easily done, there are some things to know if you want to be successful when conducting international business.
Forget What You Know
When you are working with managers or executives overseas, what you think you know about a business meeting or sales tactic has very little place in another culture.
Your meeting may be subject to a strict timeline with an agenda that lays out each step or talking point.
Other cultures may have a relaxed approach where there is a lot of coming and going as executives try to handle several issues of business at once. Don’t try to run things like you would in the United States.
Get on Common Ground
For your company to work well internationally, there will be a lot of different people from a lot of different places trying to make connections and attempting to get things done.
Rather than letting each group work as their own faction, find a middle ground where everyone is able to come together.
The leaders across locations will have their own expectations or priorities, but you need to bring all of these together in a way to serves the company’s purpose. If you can’t get everyone on the same page, you will just run into chaos and be left trying to manage some wayward outposts.
At times, removing yourself from the picture and letting a natural hierarchy evolve from your international partners (such as in a group meeting) can help bring a more cohesive approach to leadership.
The technology you have at your disposal has eliminated many of the barriers that used to cause problems for international business.
Many busy executives try to run their global ventures through email functions, but there are real people sitting on the other end of the computer in a different country waiting on some personalization.
Many cultures put a lot of stock in face-to-face conversations. Make sure your company has a dedicated second phone number for international business needs (you can also use vanity numbers), but don’t just rely on this static form of communication.
See what the culture leans toward with regard to conversational styles. You may need to be making a trip overseas more frequently or at least scheduling a video conferencing call.
There are also the hidden nuances of who should speak first, for how long, and so on. It is important that you learn to communicate correctly within the framework of international culture.
Learn About the Culture
Each culture will have its own unique traditions or customs, and your attention to those details will make a significant difference when you working with nationals in other countries.
There are customs where gift-giving is important to start a deal, but there are also expectations with the type or origin of the gift. Colors of clothing or food or paper can have different meanings, as can words or phrases.
International practices may be completely foreign to you, so it is up to you to educate yourself about the location and expectations of where you are doing business.
Hire a local consultant who can help you navigate these challenges if you want your venture to be successful.
Expanding your operations overseas can encourage longevity and profitability for your company. However, if you aren’t able to navigate the details of international trade and customers, it could just be a disaster.