Cultural Intelligence: The Door To Opening Your Business Up To the World?
In an increasingly globalised world, the labor landscape demands we relate to people from different cultures. To open up your project at a global level, you need to know the customs and behaviors of your potential clients and partners. Here we are going to explain the keys to Cultural Intelligence and how to use it to internationalise your business. We will give you concrete examples on how to relate to each of these cultures by using web content, establishing contacts and strengthening relationships to sell abroad, specifically in foreign markets which have a need for your product.
For example, establishing a business relationship in Asia will take you much longer than in Spain, where business is more fluid and meetings are more direct. In Asia and in African countries, in order to reach a trade agreement, you must establish a prior trust relationship. In Spain and Germany, punctuality is important to get off to a good start on any negotiation.
What is cultural intelligence and how can you use it to strengthen your business in foreign markets?
The business model is increasingly understood from a global logic. To reach new foreign markets, it is not enough to translate content related to your products and services into the language of your potential clients, you must also integrate your brand into the new context you face. Cultural intelligence is the ability to understand unfamiliar contexts and adapt to them. All people have more or less developed this type of intelligence but we enhance it through interaction and dialogue with a potential client, in the case of business.
In Japan, for example, presentations are critical. The traditional greeting is a slight nod. The more important the person that you are meeting is, the more pronounced the nod will be. This gesture is a sign of humbleness and respect. You have to pay close attention to the person you are relating to. Being in such a hierarchical society, it’s advised to take great care of the treatment you give to an elderly person or a relevant professional position.
A good professional or entrepreneur that seeks to expand their business into new foreign markets will have to make decisions and resolve conflicts in a way that optimises cultural differences to generate better sustainable and creative solutions. Ignoring the cultural differences or not knowing how to handle them, can form a definitive barrier of communication for the success of your company.
One of the main problems discovered by companies that failed to internationalise was not being able to detect and confront these cultural differences. Cultural differences not only occur between the West and the East, but also within the regions themselves. A Frenchman doesn’t negotiate or manage in the same way as an American. The same goes for an Italian and a Swede. The way to bargain is different, and so is the way to form a relationship. In general, the Anglo-Saxons prefer to “get to the point,” while Latinos, Arabs and some Orientals, like the Japanese, prefer to start a personal relationship first to know each other’s business.
Cultural keys for internationalisation
There are 3 key cultural aspects in international business: building personal relationships, the difference between individualist and collectivist cultures and finally, the use of direct language.
Among the collectivist cultures are for example, the Asian ones, which are undoubtedly the most prominent in today’s world of business. In Asia, usually the final decision to establish a business relationship will not depend on a single person, it is a collective decision. While in the United States, they are much faster and more individualistic when it comes to establishing trade agreements.
Identifying what kind of culture you are facing will help you develop a timeline and profitability strategy for the internationalisation your business. In Asia, in general, the deadlines are longer and seek to build a relationship of trust before entering into any business relationship.
Not only do you need verbal contact to be adapted to the new culture, but you’ll also need to adapt the key documents for your business. This requires professional translations, including email translations, document translations and also product presentation translations. Automatic translators just don’t cut it. These documents must be translated with special care by professional translators who are able to adapt them to the new context and culture that your business is facing. Look at the opportunities presented by a human translation agency. They offer a high accuracy and effectiveness in their translations, as well as speed and opportunity due to the large number of translators.
This is how international business works in different countries:
Business cards are fundamental. They act like a cover letter, so it is well worth investing in a good translation of these. Translation of business cards should include a translation into the local language or a translation from English to Chinese on the back of the card. Business cards should include everything from the professional career you have completed to the position you currently occupy. Remember that the Malays pick up the card with both hands, and look at it for a while. Behave in the same way, it is a sign of respect for their culture.
Japan is a ceremonial and traditional culture, where manners are vital. Your first contact in writing should be written in a respectful and a professional way. They like the gifts, and like in Malaysia, preferably wrapped in red or gold colors. Gift giving is done with both hands making a slight bow of the head as a sign of respect and humbleness. Gifts are always given at the end of the meeting but only open them in private.
Punctuality is a requirement that must be respected in this country as it indicates an ‘orderly life’. Knowledge is power for the Germans, express yourself with education, experience and position. Usually they use written communications, with formal language. Make sure that the tone of your letters you translate from English to German maintain this formal language. It is your way of recording all decisions and discussions. Respect the privacy of the company and avoid humor, irony and sarcasm in business. They only offer serious answers to serious questions.
In African culture, the future is not as important. It is more the past and the present which implies a short-term guidance of immediate results in the field of business. Community is the most important thing. Therefore, consultation and consensus are essential before making a decision. Any negotiation is regarded as a social and personal interaction, and both parties must be satisfied. In this sense, pressing and speeding the deal is often perceived as a symptom of deception or manipulation. Try not to pressure contacts through emails or constant calls. Keep a line of respect for your timing in any written or oral communication you make.
So, are you prepared to conquer new market destinations and international consumers during your internationalisation journey?
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We’re a startup that values expansion at a global level. We understand that internationalisation entails many challenges because we ourselves have been there too when we expanded into new foreign markets. So, are you ready to embark on the internalisation journey, launch into new market destinations, and drive sales abroad? Contact us. Our translation service and multilingual content copywriting is the door to expand your business! We have a team of talented linguists, software developers, and creative millennials ready to help you improve your multilingual communications.
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