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
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.
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.
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:
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