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 too – lol) in various industries, businesses and countries, 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 get by in the language it helps, but you will get far better 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…
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 same in 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.
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/contacts.
Good luck! Working in or with a different culture is an incredibly interesting and fulfilling experience…
Speaker, consultant, trainer and coach for senior executives in International Relations, International Business Development, Career Transitions, Corporate Gender Balance Strategy and Women’s Career Advancement with over 25 years experience in international affairs (media, import-export, energy and investment/commercial real estate), Anna started her career in the City [of London]. She worked primarily in press, shipping and oil before moving into investment/real estate, spending several years in Bermuda, Spain and France as well as periods in the States, Canada and Italy. Anna is a strong advocate for women and is deeply involved in the cause Libert’Elle, supporting women victims in finding their freedom and new opportunities in life. On the personal front, she is a committed dog lover and accomplished horsewoman, passionately interested in ballet, and a devotee of adventurous hiking and trekking.