Today, we can see the obvious effects of globalization. According to USForex, 58 percent of small businesses already have international customers, and 96 percent of these small businesses are confident about conducting business abroad.
Globalization has drastically changed the way we do business. But while offering a wealth of benefits, it also poses certain challenges to business owners. One is overcoming cultural differences and communication difficulties. Effective international business communication is paramount for your company’s success. We’ve gathered nine useful tips to help you optimize your communication with international clients, avoid awkward situations, and sitestep potentially costly mistakes.
Research culture issues before communicating
Preparation is key when it comes to cross-cultural communication. Before you start working with an international client, conduct research to learn about the client’s culture and associated business etiquette. Pay attention to details, from the way you introduce yourself to the rules of writing emails. What’s a common and natural way of doing business in your culture may not be that critical in another. For example, while Germans are known to be punctual, in many African countries, schedules aren’t considered something people have to strictly abide by.
Consider time zone differences
Bear in mind the difference between your time zone and that of your client. To simplify communication and prevent untimely calls or messages, use The World Clock on timeanddate.com. Offer to stick to your client’s time zone for convenience. This will also demonstrate your respect and care.
Establish a schedule
Time management is critical, especially when working with international clients. Time zone differences make business processes even more complicated than they are when working with local clients. That’s why good planning and time management skills are critical. You should set clear rules before you start working with an international client:
- Times when you’ll be able to respond to emails
- Convenient times for calls
- Days for holding meetings
- How to manage deadlines
Ensure real-time communication
Using messengers will enable you to instantly tackle critical issues and share important documents and files. Make sure you use reliable and convenient services that are accessible to your clients.
Specify the currency for invoicing
To prevent misunderstandings, clarify which currency you’ll be invoicing in prior to starting your cooperation. Clients can wrongly assume they’ll be charged in their local currency. You should also discuss preferred payment methods.
Consider legal issues
Laws and regulations pertaining to copyrights, trademarks, usage rights, privacy, and other matters vary across countries and even states. This may cause business communication problems and challenges. If you sign contracts with your clients, make sure they’re enforceable in your clients’ countries. Before signing a contract with an international client, consult with a lawyer to ensure you’ll be legally protected in case of any problems.
Design a multilingual website
If you have a website, translate it into the languages your clients speak. To do this, you may use translation tools, platforms, or services. In addition, make sure to localize your texts so they sound natural and authentic.
Hold regular meetings
Holding regular face-to-face meetings to share your expertise is key to a seamless consulting experience and efficient work. Establishing eye contact with your clients is the most powerful way to express your interest and care. Besides, according to a joint study by researchers at the University of Wolverhampton and the University of Stirling, looking into the camera during a presentation over a video link increases information retention. To hold video meetings, you can use software like Skype or ExpertBox, which offer HD video with clear audio and a high level of user data security.
Employ an international specialist
It’s a nice idea to employ professionals from the countries you target. Hire an experienced multilingual business communication specialist so they may assist you in communicating with clients. This specialist can act as a translator/interpreter and notice social or non-verbal signs you might not even pay attention to, helping you avoid cultural mishaps.
In short, take the following steps to boost your international business communication skills:
International business communication is tough, but we hope these nine tips will help you effectively collaborate with overseas clients and grow your business faster.
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