There is little doubt that the business world is shrinking; high-speed Internet connections and affordable means of communication have ensured that it’s never been easier to expand your business overseas – or to begin to forge relationships with international clients.
While such relationships are advantageous to businesses of every kind they’re not without their difficulties. From language barriers and cultural expectations, to currency and time delays, you’re likely to face a new kind of challenge every day during the early weeks and months of expansion.
As you can imagine it’s incredibly important to work at developing links with international clients, and to nurture the relationships that are born out of your determination. Your business’s success is dependent upon the bonds and bridges that you build, and your ability to maintain them. More and more frequently businesses are thrust onto the global stage due to consumer demand or adventurous, international expansion. It certainly pays to be fully prepared for such eventualities.
So, what are the best ways to work with international clients?
Learn the lingo
Of course, when it comes to working with international clients there are likely to be language barriers and cultural misunderstandings. Has your client quite grasped your sense of humor, or turn of phrase in your last email? Can you say, for sure, you know what he or she meant by that comment?
Face-to-face meetings, wherever possible, will become integral to the development of your relationships with international clients, while the act of introducing yourself to multilingual hubs will certainly improve your ability to communicate effectively. Watch out for subtle political stances and cultural terminology.
Consider the logistics
From time differences and travel schedules to measuring progress at a distance and organizing conference calls, working with international clients presents a host of issues. It’s essential that you and your clients understand the relationship you’re entering into, and have thought about how your calendars might coordinate.
Make allowances for time differences, but don’t lose sight of how your business operates – or how it works best. Your clients should also be accommodating and help smooth out difficulties that might arise.
Get to grips with foreign exchange rates
You’re bound to be concerned about currency, and your ability to conduct your business abroad. Do you understand international tax considerations, currency exchanges, and cultural norms? If not, now’s the time to do a little extra reading before bedtime.
International business can be confusing at times – ensure you understand all there is to know about money, including your ability to transfer money internationally – and to receive it from abroad. You might also want to consider quoting your prices and fees in USDs to save any confusion; recognized universally, USDs are usually a safe bet if you’ve warned your clients of your intentions beforehand.
Treat every day as a learning curve
When it comes to working with international clients it’s best to regard every day as a learning curve; never discount an idea, opinion, or method of doing something, simply because it’s new, or different. From cultural differences and languages, to business models and consumer habits, you’ve a lot to learn from your international clients.
The key to your success will be your ability to absorb the information you come into contact with, and a preparedness to learn from your mistakes and to overcome misgivings.
Your international clients are likely to be your company’s biggest, and best asset at any one time. Capable of helping you to ride the global market, and offering you allies across the world such clients are invaluable to businesses of every kind.
Of course, you know your clients better than anyone else, and understand how best to communicate ideas and innovations. But taking a few of our ideas on board certainly won’t hurt though. You never know what hurdles are awaiting you, just around the corner.