Conducting business with international clients brings about a completely new range of rules and regulations for business consultants. Ensuring that you are conducting business in a professional manner is paramount for both your business and your reputation. Use these helpful tips below to ensure that your communication with international clients always remains positive and professional.
Find a method to communicate that’s cheap and accessible. Figure out the best method of communicating with your clients. Consider cost and accessibility as the most important aspects of the platform. Video calls, phone calls, chat, emails and webinars are the most popular tools for consultants. Services like Skype can be good for video calling, or Yondo for a service that allows you to pick and choose between all of these technologies.
Do your research about the client’s home country before conducting business in order to avoid embarrassment on either side. This means having a basic understanding of the geographical location, a well as social and cultural knowledge such as business etiquette, using correct titles and appropriate greetings. Frustratingly, you may also encounter clients and situations that require different roles for men and women, be aware of this before hand to prevent confrontation. It is also important to understand legislation differences in regard to privacy and copyright for legal reasons.
Hire the right staff to support you. This means someone (or a group of people) that are multilingual with a good understanding of international business practices that can assist you when communicating with clients. Not only can they act as translators, they should be able to pick up on nonverbal and social cues that you may not be able to. They should also assist you with the point above, in providing you with advice about cultural differences.
Use the right technology. Make sure the technology you employ caters well to your clients. It needs to be accessible to clients all over the world, with solid connections and optimum speeds. Instant messaging services like Slack and file sharing services such as Dropbox become imperative in order to maintain strong communication between you and your clients.
Always avoid slang. This one is particularly important because it is something so second nature to business communication in a localized setting. This means no acronyms, no slang, no jargon, no risky jokes and no sarcasm. It could potentially be very disrespectful and you could risk your client becoming offended if the language you are using is exclusive or taunting. Be very literal in what you say. This will make it clearer for the client to understand and the translator to translate.
Depending on the culture, humor can get you ahead. This one is a very cautionary point, exclusive only to people well acquainted with a particular culture with a good understanding of their approach to humor. When used correctly, it is a fantastic way to engage in a friendly and amiable relationship with your client.
Time zone differences are easy to forget. You never want to make the mistake when doing international business, of waking a client up, disturbing them during an important time or calling them at an indecent hour. Having a world clock is not a bad idea if you’re constantly communicating with people in different regions of the globe, as it will allow for synchronicity across all of your clients. Another key is scheduling. Have a strict plan with notes that remind you of important times to ensure you have something to help you keep on top of your tasks.
Take time to build your relationships. This is an important tip for people looking to get fast results. You will have difficulties trying to fast-track past the niceties and get straight into business, because certain businesses in certain countries simply won’t allow it. This is the time that trust and familiarity is built and so it is important to take your time during this stage. You should always see your clients for their relationship, rather than their contracts, that need more in-depth interactions than fleeting and impersonal conversation in order to really work.
- China – Do not point when speaking.
- Japan – The most senior person will do most of the talking, remain quiet out of respect.
- Germany – Humor is not common in a business setting.
- India – Avoid the word ‘no’ as it’s considered blunt and rude.
- Russia – Punctuality is highly valued.
- France – Always apologize for your lack of fluency in the French language.
- Indonesia – You should not schedule any meetings or lunch dates during prayer times.