Working Successfully in an International Market

To work successfully in an international market most people think you just need to learn the language and have a better price – WRONG! What you need is so very different...

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To work successfully in an international market most people think you just need to learn the language and have a better price – WRONG! 

I have worked internationally most of my working life (far too long to admit to – lol – 7 countries with 4 languages) in various industries and businesses, with differing levels of responsibility. …And, language is definitely NOT the main issue.

Essentials to concentrate on are:

  1. Mentality and culture of the country/people you will be working/dealing with. Yes, if you can speak comfortably in the language it helps, but you will get far better business results by focusing on their values, how they think and their ways of working.  Adapt your way of communication to fit in with their habits. If you do this, they will feel you understand them, that you respect what they stand for.  This generates TRUST!!!   Trust gets the deal… I can’t tell you how many times I have seen the deal lost due to a lack of adaptability towards the mentality and culture.
  2. Your business objectives.You need to really know what your goals and objectives are in each part of your international market.  Don’t just say more sales… Analyse in detail EXACTLY what you want, is it increased ROI, brand name recognition, new client base, increased sales of product a, introduction of product b, expansion of your company into country x, JV with company y, development of market share in sector z… etc.  Once you have this information firmly fixed in your head (and on paper), do a SWOT analysis of each item thinking with the mentality of the country where you wish to succeed.
  3. Research on market and competitors.This seems obvious, but it is amazing how many people forget this.  Really search for all the info you can find about the specific market you are going into, and about the competitors working there.  They may be totally different to those in your country. You then need to analyse what they do better than you, how you can match them in those areas, and where they fall down compared to you.  Remember to take into account the different culture and mentality – so what you think is ‘better’ or a ‘strength’ may not be the samein a different country.
  4. Brainstorm the changes you will need to make with your colleagues.Having followed the first three tips, now do a mind map on what you have found that is unexpected or different to what you anticipated. Keep that close and then have a brainstorming session with your colleagues about your launch into the new international sector.  Let them see what you have discovered.  Listen to what they have found, hopefully they will also be looking on how to adapt their approach to best communicate and integrate with the people in the other country. If they don’t have this adaptability firmly in the forefront of their minds, it is well worth the time (and cost) to arrange several specific, and detailed,  workshops on this topic.
  5. Talk regularly to a mentor. Find a mentor for the first few months, preferably a native of the country you will be working with, or at the very least someone who has worked successfully, really integrated and has good working relationships with people and companies in that country.  This will help you become effective, productive and alert to the real needs to gain the trust of your new clients, colleagues and contacts.

Good luck!  Working in, or with, a different culture is an incredibly interesting and fulfilling experience…


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