Onboard BA0546 London to Rome, another flight, another trip, another culture. Over the last 15 years, I had the fortune to work in several places around the world: Europe, Japan, China, USA, Russia, UAE just to name a few.
It's been an amazing journey and I've learnt quite a lot of lessons and I would like to share some of them with you all.
Point 1 - Do your homework first
I'm not referring to the usual research about your customer, industry and competition that, by the way, is very important too. The lesson here is about understanding the culture of the host Country. As Marvin Bower once said: "culture is the way we do things around here". So, before your next business trip overseas, do a bit of research on the customs, etiquette and body language of your host country. I remember once, a colleague of mine in a meeting with an Indian supplier, looking absolutely puzzled at the way they were actually agreeing with us by tilting their heads from right to left and back. Of course it's a simple example but it proves the importance of being aware of these customs. In this particular case: body language
Point 2 - Language
Although English is the de-facto language for business, I would say that knowing a few words in another language gives a very good first impression and helps to break the ice, especially if you're meeting the client for the first time. Of course, speaking the same language will be a big advantage in some Countries and needs to be taken into account when entering markets overseas.
Point 3 - Political divergence
Never taking side on conversations about delicate political situations affecting a certain region unless you’re really informed and you know the Client extremely well.
Point 4 - Marketing campaign launches
Always conduct research for your target foreign audience since customer demand, decision-making, gender views and creeds greatly vary in cultures.
Point 5 - Relationship first: Business is the result
For some cultures, the goal of a business negotiation, above all, is a signed contract between the parties. Other cultures tend to consider that the goal of a negotiation is not a signed contract but rather the creation of a relationship between the two parties. Although the written contract expresses the relationship, the essence of the deal is the relationship itself.
So next time, you are going for business abroad do refer to the above points and please share your experiences with us – firstname.lastname@example.org