Networking Overseas

The Do’s and Don’ts of Networking Overseas

Over my many years as the Founder of BNI®, I have traveled to many countries.  In all these places, no matter where they are from,  the people are amazing and want to learn about business referrals and Networking Overseas.

“Different faces, different races, different languages but we all speak the language of referrals”

However, you cannot use your cultural norms you are used to in your country when networking with others. My advice if you are going to conduct business overseas is to learn about the culture you are about to visit.  I recommend that you check out this website.  This site gives you the do’s and don’ts in many countries.

http://www.ediplomat.com/np/cultural_etiquette/cultural_etiquette.htm

Furthermore, I would recommend that you talk to someone in that country when you get there as well.  You probably already have a good contact with someone who invited you to travel to their country. Take time to chat with them before you leave to review what to expect. For example, some basic hand gestures (like pounding your fist in your palm) is EXTREMELY RUDE in Malaysia and Singapore.  Also, tell some of your stories to someone there to see if there is anything culturally problematic.

Do I need a translator?

If you have a translator, they will most likely translate anything offensive into something that is not offensive.  It’s hand gestures and photos on the slide that could get you in trouble with a translator.  The translator may need help with acronyms or with slang. Remember to speak slowly to allow the translator time. Your timing will be off for humor.  With a good translator, give a one or two count for the humor to be translated.  You’ll hear laughs in waves (those who know English and again a couple seconds later for the translation).  If the translator is not so good – it could take four or five seconds for the second wave (if you decide to wait).

If you are keynoting at a networking event – you will feel like a ROCK STAR!  Many times, I found while traveling to other countries, they are very, very respectful people AND are very animated in their appreciation of having you attend their event.

If you are planning to use a PowerPoint in your presentation, it helps to give it to the translator a day in advance.  Include the notes if you have any.  This is particularly good with phrases they have never seen before (slang, acronyms, and phrases like Givers Gain®).  Sometimes, they also like to see a short video of you to watch you before they translate you.  Feel free to give them a link to a video if you have one.

As for avoiding the dreaded “Jet Lag” while traveling, here’s what I do.

  1. If I arrive at a destination in the morning – I force myself to sleep on the plane even if I’m not tired.  Take an over the counter sleep aid.  You must sleep as much as possible or you will get there and be wiped out.
  2. If you arrive at night – force yourself to stay awake on the plane.  Drink coffee or take caffeine pills. Do whatever you need to do to stay awake as much as possible.  A short sleep 1-2 hours is inevitable but try to limit it.  That way when you arrive you are so tired you will just fall into bed.
  3. If you do one of these approaches, you’ll flip your clock quickly (at least it has worked for me for decades).  Try to have your spouse do the same if possible so you are in sync while on your trip together.

I hope this helps.  You will have a blast networking overseas.  My final tip is to have fun.  However, this is a business trip, not a vacation. You are an invited guest in their country. Always act professionally. This is an amazing opportunity and it will be a memorable trip.

Photo by Sergey Kustov (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Five Tips for Traveling Abroad on Business

My lovely wife Beth and I immersing ourselves in the local culture while visiting Vietnam last summer.

I’m extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel extensively for both business and pleasure. Over the years, I’ve accumulated numerous tips to help aid overseas business travel.

What many businesspeople fail to realize about business work abroad is that is comes with a unique set of challenges. While business travel in your home country requires a certain level of planning and organization, international travel is a whole other ballpark.

No matter where you are going for business, your itinerary is your best friend. This is even more the case in a foreign country. You will undoubtedly want to spend some time visiting landmarks and taking in the culture of the area. By planning your trip in advance and scheduling in time to complete all of the work you need to do, you can fit in time to relax, see the sights, and enjoy yourself.

What kinds of customs do people in other cultures have that you could easily offend? For example, in many cultures, Japanese and Indian included, it is customary to spend a lot of time reading someone’s business card when they hand it to you – just taking it and slipping it in your pocket immediately is inappropriate.

In the same vein, be very conscious of your body language. Things that you do all the time may have completely different connotations in other cultures. Even handshakes might mean something different in other cultures, as for some it is customary to bow instead.

Learn a few key phrases in the native language of the country if you aren’t already fluent, as well. Business associates will appreciate any honest attempt you make at communicating with them in their native language.

While a little more obvious, check into your paperwork a few months in advance to when you leave. Some countries won’t accept your passport if it is nearing expiration, for example. Do you need a visa for your trip? These are things that you won’t want to leave to the last minute, as they will surely provide unneeded (or wanted) stress.

What are your top tips for traveling abroad for business? Let me know in the comments below!

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