Technology makes our planet a little smaller each day. Easy global communication, developments in shipping practices, and language translation software makes international business a viable option for any sized organization.
However, creating international business relationships isn’t always as simple as it sounds. Cultural and language barriers can create a perceived distance that is much harder to traverse than the actual distance. After all, relationships take effort whether you are working domestically with vendors, customers, or partners. Working transcontinentally complicates these tasks even further. In the early stages, you will often find yourself investing much more than you see in returns, and that’s okay.
International business relationships require much more trust than domestic ones. The geographic separation typically equates to there being more at stake and less verification. A domestic business disagreement can be more easily resolved with a quick flight and a face-to-face meeting, while international disagreements include mismatched time zones and expensive travel. So how do you begin to build solid international relationships? See our top five tips below:
Distance no longer means bad business.
Focus on building credibility with your new prospects. Be sure that marketing efforts display a sense of reputability through customer reviews, case studies, problem-solving, and time spent in the industry. Showcase employees that add value to your business on your blog and website, especially those who are customer facing. A sense of transparency into the inner workings of your organization can solidify your international relationships efforts from thousands of miles away.
George Bernard Shaw once said that “the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” To avoid this mishap, be sure that all expectations – whether they be deadlines, delivery dates, or payments due – are written out clearly so that both parties understand. Any confusion will be exponentially expounded if there are language or cultural barriers involved.
It’s worth scheduling time to check in and make sure expectations are being met, and that the plan forward measures up with each party’s timeframe. However, if issues occur and expectations are not met, be sure that you learn from unfortunate situations and create strategies to avoid the same problem in the future.
When in doubt, ask.
Oftentimes, communication can be tough when dealing with accents and phrases that may not be familiar to both parties. When dealing with international relationships, it’s important that whenever you are unclear on what you have been told, that you take the time to ask for clarification. Never assume that whatever you may have missed in the conversation isn’t important or won’t come up again. It does, and it will.
Translate, translate, translate.
Consider hiring professionals to help break free of miscommunications. Translation companies can help you take your locally owned business to the global market. According to translation experts Language Connect, “Global import/export totaled US$18.3 trillion in goods and US$4.4 trillion in services in 2012. Translation, localization, and interpreting enable much of this trade.”
Translation allows you to expand your business into new territories and broaden your existing opportunities, all while helping you become a better international communicator. Find out more about how Language Connect can help you with your international expansion plans today.