In our fast paced and globalized world, businesses across industries are working with an increasingly diverse array of clients. These modern clients can vary based on size, goal, product, culture, and geography. This has made understanding and being experienced working with different and unique clients extremely important. It has also placed an expectation on businesses that they be able to work with clients that have and rely on offices, markets, and footprints overseas. This can be challenging at first, as working internationally requires a unique thoroughness and experience. However, small, often overlooked practices can greatly help in working with international clients. Here are three minor practices I’ve found to be particularly helpful.
Be well briefed of current international news. Just like with any client, international clients expect you to understand important and relevant news that may impact their work. These international news stories could impact business opportunities, meeting schedules, or even just provide valuable relationship and trust building topics of conversation. Additionally, understanding the news impacting your client will demonstrate your commitment to and respect for them. Thus, when you get the local paper or are browsing news online be sure to include some overseas news sources as well.
Be mindful of time zones. Another minor, but immensely important, item to remember for your international clients is the importance of time zones. While scheduling a conference call is often not an easy task even when its entirely domestic, trying to schedule a call when participants are in three to four time zones can be exceptionally difficult. Remember to always make these calls fit your client’s schedule. That may mean some late night or early morning calls for you. However, these early morning and late night calls will help in the long run, and will show your client your professionalism, diligence, and dedication.
Meeting in person is still often times better than email or phone. When your client is continents away and in-person meetings require hotels, air travel, and days away from home, it can be easy to just try and do everything over the phone or in an email. However, just like with any other client, sometimes an in-person meeting is wise and even necessary. It helps put a face to the name in the client’s inbox and will help develop the relationship between you and your firm with the client. A few trips overseas, could make a significant difference for the client and your business relationship moving forward.
The world has gotten a lot smaller, and we are more connected to those overseas than we ever have been. These dynamics make international business experience and understanding a must, particularly for those just beginning their careers. These three tips, while per se minor, are immensely important and make a difference when working in our expanding global community.