Understanding cultural differences when doing business around the world is becoming more important in a global society. Even within large countries like the United States, there are definitely differences from one region to another. When you go beyond that and look at one country vs. another, the differences become even more impactful on business.
When we concentrate on similarities with each other in business, the differences aren’t that important. Problems arise when the differences appear to be all there are. When entrepreneurs focus on the perceived differences between each other in business, these differences can become stumbling blocks to developing a strong relationship, which is, after all, the ultimate goal of networking. When you factor in differences in communication and behavioral styles it exacerbates the perceived differences.
Although many networking basics are universal, if you can factor in these and other cultural nuances you will definitely get a leg up when doing business in other countries. Your networking etiquette will be greatly appreciated as your business increasingly takes you into other countries, especially if you can learn a few words or commonly practiced traditions of that country. Showing this kind of respect will go a long way in making a smoother connection with the local business people you are trying to work with.
The old saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans” is very appropriate. However, one thing I’d strongly suggest–don’t just “do as the Romans,” take the time to actually “ask a few Romans.” I have had amazing suggestions from local business people I knew in other countries who thoroughly prepped me for the cultural differences in networking prior to my arrival in their country. Their counseling and coaching made a huge difference in my ability to connect in an appropriate way throughout many of the countries I have visited.
Be sure to come back next week where I’ll be sharing some valuable tips I’ve picked up about doing business and networking within the Asian market. In the meantime, if you have any useful tips or bits of advice for successfully networking in a certain country or region of the globe, please–by all means–share this information in the comments section. You never know who you could be helping!
By Dr. Ivan Misner