Connect and Communicate Cross Culturally
06 Jan

Connect and Communicate Cross Culturally

Joining a mission is one of the best ways to do a discovery for your business, products and services.

When travelling and working internationally, we have learnt that being part of a business mission helps you become a better problem solver, become adaptable and flexible in your ideas and creating something new, and develop a pathway to take you from where you are now to where you want to be.

People follow people and there is nothing better than meeting face to face.  With every mission I have been involved, I have watched businesses grow along with mine – from connections within the mission and also from the new cultures visited if followed up correctly and timely.

My Top Five Tips for working in Asian Cultures

  1. The Power of First Impressions – understand your first impression and what you transfer. Match the handshake for firmness – on a scale from one to ten, you can match the firmness and create a win -win situation.
  1. Exchanging Business Cards – give and receive business cards with both hands … make sure when you hand your business card over, they can read it. When you receive their business card, take the time to read it and make relevant comments.

Do not write on it in front of the person … save that for later!  During the conference, the business cards that are most important to me I put in my right pocket, while in my left pocket is the non-urgent follow up.

I always take a picture of my cards after an event, write notes on them and send through to the office to put on spreadsheet.  There are also a range of scanning apps available with some of the best listed here.

  1. Appreciate the Differences – don’t complain about the differences. Enjoy the smells, tastes and different ways to do businesses – look for the opportunities.

Case Study:

I was working in China with a large group of Australian and American business people. It quickly became obvious to me that not everyone had taken the time to do their research and go through the process of becoming culturally aware before they arrived.

We were going out to a formal dinner and it started to rain so some of our hosts got umbrellas and held them over our heads as we huddled together. Just when we were about to leave, one of the women in our group said, ‘Oh, I really need to go to the toilet but I hate their toilets. Why are Chinese toilets like that?’

I was horrified that she said this, especially while our hosts were being so courteous and considerate holding the umbrellas over our heads.   ‘Oh, I’m so sorry,’ I said to the host standing next to me. And being a bit cheeky if said, ‘She’s not Australian!’ This broke the ice and we started talking which continued over the dinner and next day with an unscheduled business meeting. We went on to develop a training product together that we still deliver today.

Sometimes you have to acknowledge the elephant in the room and move on.

  1. Understand Public Transport – whilst public transport is highly efficient in moving a large number of people around, try not to catch the MTR or the Star Ferry during the rush hours of 8am to 9.30am or 6 to 7 pm. Remember though the distance may look close on the map by taxi it could take a long time – always check with the hotel on your departure times and when you need to leave etc.
  1. Take the time to Connect and Communicate – you may walk away thinking you have sealed the deal, but have you? I have found the Asian culture is polite and humble and if you don’t do a discovery you will not know if your product / service is what they need or if the price matches and you may not get a second chance.

Please take the time for tea, or drinks – build a relationship and then find out what their business needs or wants are for the future.  Stay a day or two after any mission to book in appointments, visit some sights so you get to understand the culture and you will be seen as taking an interest in the country.

Being Emotionally and Culturally Intelligent has changed everything for me. This is why we include it in our diploma of leadership and management, essential for anyone looking to do business internationally.

Take some positive steps

You have seven seconds in which to make an impression. If it’s not a good one, then you may have to make up to 12 more positive experiences to build a relationship and likeability. You need to have many more touch points for the other person to see who you are if you don’t think you connected well at first. You might hook the other person in on the fifth or seventh one – you won’t know till you start. Some positive steps could include:

  • Inviting them to meet again for drinks or a meal.
  • Offer to send some further information – follow the 60/60 rule: send it within 60 minutes and follow up within 60 hours.
  • Show that you have understood their culture by sending an appropriately worded email thanking them for their time in the meeting.
  • You might need to send them references or testimonials to validate you; maybe find someone they know as well who will speak on your behalf and recommend you to them. Keep this in mind: 91 per cent of people say they would give out referrals but only 11 per cent of business people actually ask for one. No matter what country you are working in, a referral can double your business, so don’t be afraid to ask. Once you receive a referral, follow it up and I can tell you from experience that your business will grow.
  • All around the world more women are in the workforce and holding responsible positions than ever before. Nevertheless, in some countries, when a woman is doing business with a man, it will help her to have an introduction from another man. Show testimonials from a man when you meet so the men you are doing business with will show you a greater degree of respect.

Follow Up is Key

Did you know, eighty per cent of sales are made in the fifth to twelfth contact?

Globally, there is a lack of follow-up across all businesses. So when you return home from a business trip, follow up and consciously communicate with your customers and contacts. You could spend a fortune on the latest products, websites and programs and still not build your business because you are not following up your leads.

Once you understand how to capture and follow-up customers, locally and around the world, you will see your business grow. In the western world, the best day for a follow-up call or email is Thursday. So, make your initial follow-up contact 24 hours after your first meeting, and make a note in your diary to follow-up again.

Enjoy your mission, do your research, follow up and have fun.

About Catherine Molloy

Catherine Molloy is an internationally recognised speaker and author of “The Million Dollar Handshake”.  Her company, AusPac Business Advantage provides training in sales, leadership, management and customer service. Clients include Fortune 500 companies, entrepreneurs and municipal councils. Catherine is the cultural advisor for the Australian delegation to International Finance Week in Hong Kong in January 2019.

Books and Resources

  • Read the book “The Million Dollar Handshake” here
  • Use code XBHB to access on-line resources here
  • Sign up to online course Develop and Use Emotional Intelligence for $20 here


About Catherine Molloy
Catherine Molloy is an International Keynote Speaker & Communication Expert / Author of the Million Dollar Handshake / Owner of Auspac Business Advantage Pty Ltd. / Winner of Stevie Awards for Leadership and Sales / Asia Pacific Stevie Awards for the Conscious Connection Framework / Awarded the Australian Institute of Management Excellence Awards for owner, Manager of the Year, and has over 25 years expertise in the delivery of education training in the field of Body Language, Leadership, Sales, Service and Communication training.

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