Building those relationships
by Barbara Hickey
May 05, 2014 12:00 AM | 1441 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print

“A business leader has to keep their organization focused on the mission. That sounds easy, but it can be tremendously challenging in today’s competitive and ever-changing business environment. A leader also has to motivate potential partners to join.”

Meg Whitman

CEO Hewlett-Packard

If your Mission Statement prepares the way for reaching beyond our borders, do your due diligence in search of new partners. Even though it is a constant challenge to deal with companies outside the United States, the world is getting smaller and opportunities are there for the business willing to make the effort.

Before making the gesture to communicate with companies that would enhance your international reputation, please do your homework on the culture, business methods and protocol. Your research could help you avoid the pitfalls that could derail any relationship that would lead to a partnership.

Forbes posted their yearly list and map in December 2013 called ‘The Best and Worst Countries for Business.’ I have selected five areas of the world to highlight and will focus on the business practices that are part of making that initial impression, one that leads to a relationship.

The United Kingdom

The countries of England, Wales and Scotland (known collectively as Great Britain) and Northern Ireland all have a separate heritage, language and history but share similar business behaviors that are part of their culture.

Business Tips For Success:

• Be punctual.

• Arrange to be introduced to a decision-maker by a third person, if possible.

• Do not appear condescending.

• Avoid the ‘hard sell’ approach.

• Do not be offended by the direct manner.

• A business meeting may be a Continental breakfast. Lunch between noon and 2:00 pm could be in a pub or in one of the best restaurants. Dinner is also in a restaurant around 7:00 pm.

• Do not be the first to discuss work. Always follow the host or hostess’ lead.

• Remember to always show proper manners.

Republic of Ireland

Voted #1 by Forbes, Ireland is very similar to its neighbors but has a separate history, two official languages (English and Irish) and a culture steeped in the Catholic Church.

Business Tips For Success:

• Be punctual.

• Do not plan appointments in the months of July and August, as Irish businesses may be closed for vacation during this time.

• Be aware that the Irish try to avoid the word “No” and find a way to give the message in a kinder way.

• The Irish want to have a relationship before doing business, so offer to go for coffee or invite to dinner.

• Avoid mentioning England.

• Do not brag or inflate your product or service.

New Zealand

Even though it is an island nation, New Zealand was voted #2 by Forbes as it builds relationships with other industrial nations in Asia and also assists struggling countries of the Pacific Rim.

Business Tips For Success:

• Be early for appointments.

• December and January are summer months and many are on vacation.

• Arrange meetings by email or telephone weeks before you arrive.

• The people have little regard for wealth or social status and respect honesty.

• Lunch is for business but dinner is for being social and building relationships.

• Avoid praising Australia as there is a strong rivalry.

• Ostentation in any form is frowned upon.

Hong Kong and Singapore

Forbes selected these two Asian countries, Hong Kong as #3 and Singapore as #7, for being great innovators of business partnerships. They share the history of being British Colonies at one time. Hong Kong is now referred to as a Special Administrative Region of China, as it was turned over to China in 1997. Both have English as one of their official languages, so when conducting business with foreigners the ‘common language’.

Business Tips For Success:

• Both countries are known as safe destinations.

• Schedule appointments in advance.

• Be on time for appointments.

• For now, Hong Kong has a free flow of information.

• Both countries encourage citizens to build relationships.

• Age and seniority are highly respected.

• Always speak in a mannerly tone and remain calm.

• Both countries base successful business relationships built on strong social relationships.

• Be aware of strict anticorruption laws in Singapore and be prepared to know these laws in advance of your visit.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and The State of Kuwait

Both of these countries are on the Forbes Top 100 List — #56 Saudi Arabia and #76 Kuwait. Both of these western Asia countries are governed by Conservative Sunni majorities focused on Islamic values. Having lived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for three years, I know that once you build a true relationship with Saudi people, you have a friend for life.

Business Tips For Success:

• Non-Muslims may not enter Saudi Arabia without an invitation. However, usually a prominent Saudi will be a sponsor upon the recommendation of an important American friend.

• Visitors to both countries are subject to strict Islamic law and should dress and conduct themselves accordingly.

• Even though your client may be late, you should be on time.

• The Call to Prayer changes with the season of the year, so do not schedule a meeting that will conflict with prayer.

• Late mornings are best for appointments.

• Friday is the Muslim holy day.

• The work week is from Saturday through Wednesday.

• Know the special holidays so you will not be frustrated when you cannot reach your contact as families are gathering to celebrate.

Until next month let me leave you with this thought:

“Business more than any other occupation is a continual dealing with the future; it is a continual calculation, an instinctive exercise in foresight.”

Henry R. Luce

Publisher and

Co-Founder of Time Inc.

Barbara Hickey of Mableton is a community volunteer and owner of The Etiquette School of Atlanta.

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