Whether you are the director of sales for a global company, the government official of a country, or the manager of a manufacturing company, relationship building is one of the keys to success.
When it comes to working with people from other countries, establishing a level of comfort from the beginning is a pathway to building a successful relationship. In certain cultures around the world, establishing the relationship upfront is a priority for doing business. For example, when working with countries such as Italy, China and Brazil, the expectation is to get to know one another first before introducing the business discussion. One way to do this is to schedule a lunch upon arrival and spend time with your host. If you are not able to meet your clients in person, schedule a video conference to engage in discussion face-to-face. This interaction will go a long way in building the trust factor that is so important, especially in relationship-building countries.
Task and Relationship Building
Early in my career, people would tell me that I would be good in sales. I translated that to mean that I was a good relationship-builder, which I took as a nice compliment. Being a Greek-American, I have attributed some of the good ‘sales’ skills to my cultural background. Understanding cultural differences and how they impact not only my behavior, but those around me, has enabled me to engage in effective relationship-building. Although it may seem obvious to do this, it does not always translate as effective as we would like it to when we travel outside of the United States. As Americans we tend to manage our tasks first and focus on the relationship at a later date. This strategy works well in other task-driven cultures but when it comes to working in relationship-focused cultures, it can build roadblocks with colleagues and clients.
Relationship Building Tools
I facilitated a training for a group of American-based staff working remotely with India. There were significant challenges with the United States staff – specifically building trust with the India staff. One tool introduced to the United States-based team included talking with their Indian colleagues about topics other than business. The American managers began asking their Indian colleagues about their cricket matches. They also asked about the local cuisine. The two teams exchanged photos of each other and they even exchanged recipes and sent care packages of their favorite food. Getting to know the people you are working with can help tremendously in the long run with your work colleagues.
That’s right — the teams sent each other care packages! And it was a global company.
These minor adaptions to the business strategy can make a major difference in the business relationship and the success of the organization. Not to mention the morale and overall happiness of the employees.
As we maneuver through our daily work, one thing is for sure – building relationships will benefit you in many ways. And in several countries around the world, establishing a rapport with your business colleagues upfront will go a long way in obtained long-lasting relationships.
Whether we are working with colleagues or clients in Chicago, Sao Paolo or Milan, it’s important to spend time building relationships. It’s also important to remember that in several cultures around the world, individuals need to develop the relationship before they can even consider doing business with other individuals that they do not know. Without the relationship, nothing will get done. Understanding the cultural differences and the expectations of the people we do business with can be a major game changer in terms of global success.
So go to Paris for lunch, take the time to have a conversation over coffee with your local team or ask your colleagues in Germany about their summer holiday plans…you will be surprised what a difference it will make when you need that important report done ASAP!