10 ways to build business relationships abroad

Conducting business abroad is not only immensely rewarding, it is also becoming essential. As the world gets smaller and travel between countries gets faster and easier we need to have the skills to be able to deal with people from across the planet.

Every country has different customs and ways of doing business. The more we understand about different business cultures the more places we are able to effectively work in and be successful business people.

People who possess such knowledge and skills are becoming more and more sought after as employees.

Here are some ways to build effective relationships with foreign business people.

Stay nearby

Whether it be a serviced apartment in Tokyo, a serviced apartment in Hong Kong or any other kind of accommodation, make sure you are staying close by.

Immersing yourself in local life and living local customs will go some way to allowing you to understand your counterparts.

Staying in corporate housing also allows you to invite your new friends round for a business meeting, or even dinner.


Learn customs

Every country has its own way of doing things. It’s all very well renting your serviced apartment in Singapore and living like a local if you go to a meeting, grab a business card off of your new colleague and shove it in your back pocket.

Business cards are powerful tools in Asian business, learn the etiquette. The same goes for any other country or culture you might be visiting .


Be yourself

Just because your dealing with someone from a different country it doesn’t mean you have to play a part. Be authentic and don’t create a false persona, even online (especially online in some cultures).

If you in turn accept others as they are you’ll start to attract companies and new colleagues who you naturally connect and effectively communicate with.


Pick out similar goals

In our personal life we strive to be with people with whom we share values and goals. Why shouldn’t it be the same with your business relationships. After all, isn’t it more pleasant to do business with people we like?

There’s no difference in dealing with people abroad. Agreement on everything isn’t necessary, but sharing goals and values is.


Be humble

Over confident know it alls aren’t as successful in business as they think they are! Nobody wants to deal with people who think they are better than them.

People from all walks of life like to see that other people are as vulnerable as they are. Remember, being humble and showing vulnerability shouldn’t be seen as a weakness, especially in the boardroom. Don’t go overboard!


Show loyalty

People like people who they feel have ‘got their back’. It’s easy to gossip about people we’ve just met. Especially if they speak another language.

Showing loyalty to business colleagues is important across all cultures and inappropriate conversations should be kept to personal time or not had at all.

There will be a time when you need colleagues new and old to have your back, don’t forget that.


Drop all expectations

The best relationships develop when everyone involved enters into them with an open mind. Don’t assume anything about new work colleagues, especially if your assumptions are based solely on the interactions you’ve had with them at work.

We may want people we meet to be what we what them to be, but the best way to take people is as they come.


Give something before taking something

This is one of the most effective ways to build trust in a business relationship. Don’t go into any business meeting armed only with a list of demands. Make sure you always have something to offer in return and, if appropriate, always make an offer first.

In some business cultures you’re expected to take a physical gift into a business meeting. If you’re visiting one of these cultures, make sure you’re aware of what not to give!


Have mutual respect

This won’t be something that happens straight away. Especially in a long distance business relationship with cultural and language barriers.

Make sure you have plenty of patience and understanding of different ways of doing business. Being selective about who to do business with in the first place will ensure that respect is developed seamlessly and successfully.


Have fun

If you’re being yourself and you’ve identified business colleagues with similar goals and aspirations to you then doing something fun should come naturally. After all, you know what all work and no play does to ‘Jack’!

If you’re in a foreign country on business the new things you have to experience are endless. Get your new colleagues to show you a good time!


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