It’s been more than a year since I read an article on globalization of business on HBR by some Indian author. He wrote that the first thing he learnt after moving to a western country from India is to remember that he does not live in India anymore. How he used to manage people in India is not going to work there. On a candid note, I was taken aback on this opinion. I was forced to think on this issue, do really people belong to different regions, different culture are motivated and managed differently. No more universal management theories applied there. Ok, even if you are managing people, trying to make good business relationship in other countries, do we need to adapt their culture, their motivating theories, their language to seem more familiar to them, and their school of management?
But then I got this opportunity of staying in one country and working for another. No doubt staying in India is an advantage; low cost of living, the family support of our families (Asians are totally obsessed about it) and lot many things we might lose staying out of home town. Business development is all about building relationships; but through mails, through telephone, how much you can know a client, more than a person than a client. I learnt a few things about getting accepted in a foreign county which I rather want to share with you people, and hope that it will help you somehow some time:
- Don’t learn the culture; share it: You don’t need to know each and every thing about your client’s culture from internet. I know it’s important to firstly know a client as a person than knowing his company’s history; but what you can tell him about his country with perfection, he would have already known it zillions times more than you. If you think you can impress him/her with your internet knowledge then I am sorry but my dear colleague you are highly mistaken. Don’t try to tell them what they already know, rather tell them about your culture and let them speak about theirs. It’s generous to learn a few words from their language and use them occasionally but at the same time make them learn about your culture, your language too. People find it interesting and personal too. In business development, the biggest compliment you can pay your international clients is to learn about their country and their customs.
- Be smart but be honest: I know there are tricks in business you can’t help learning from; college, colleagues, seniors, managers; but there is absolutely no need of using them if not required. It’s better rather to be honest and bear a few short term losses now than to be over smart using those tricks and lose your client forever. We all leant at our school, ‘Hard work is the only key to successes; it’s just that we forgot to apply it with time. The one big challenge in business development is to build trust before building your projects and without honesty you can never build that relationship. This trust is even more important while dealing with people in Asia and Latin America. In international business development, one should always focus on building a relationship before going to the bottom line.
- Be a Partner: You know that you are talking to them, meeting them, doing them favors; just because you need to sell them services. You think that you are their service providers and no doubt they are only going to take you as their service providers. They will meet you but they know that only you have profit out of that meeting. Let them take profit too. Be a partner to them rather than just a service provider. Be interested in their sector, their company, and their goals, try to find out things that you know and you can do for them, just like that. You are trying to be established in their county, if they are interested try to make them help getting into your country also. Do them favors if they want to have some information about their sector in your country. This will make you their partners rather than their vendors and who would let their partners down.