A Guest Post by Lilly Miller
Much like wanting to impress our partner’s parents and siblings on our first encounter, and trying our best to shine during that very first job interview – the desire to be memorable and stand out in business is no different. Leaders, entrepreneurs, business owners, everyone wants to put their best foot forward, especially when it comes to pitching a potential client, a partner, or even an investor from abroad.
We all come from different backgrounds, so we have different expectations, and we’re raised in different social environments. Naturally, that alone leads to discrepancies in how we communicate, negotiate, and what we consider appealing in a potential business partner or client.
It often boils down to that very first encounter, and what you manage to achieve when you first shake someone’s hand, or the way they find you sitting at a table as they walk into a room. Your tone of voice and your choice of words can make or break a deal, and the way you treat a visiting client or partner can achieve the same. Here, we’ll cover a few key topics to help you prepare for those first impressions in international waters!
Safety and hygiene as top priorities
Ever since the pandemic has changed how we travel to conduct business, other rules have come to light, and now respecting these rules is a reflection of how we treat our hosts or guests. When you’re about to visit a foreign country, you first need to make sure that you can follow their COVID-19 restrictions and that none of your plans clash with their recommendations.
By wearing a mask and offering a table that provides a safe distance for negotiations, you let your clients or partners know that you care for their wellbeing and that you’ve made sure that even the meetings you’ve scheduled on their territory are in line with the rules.
Going that extra mile to impress
Whether you are flying out to meet your potential partners in person, or you’re having them visit you, it pays to invest in certain “perks” that will showcase how vested you are. For example, New Zealand is one of those top post-pandemic destinations that many business owners consider safe and friendly enough to expand their operations.
To stay extra safe and to impress your clients in one go, you can book a professional car rental for the Auckland airport to make sure they arrive in style, as well as safely. By helping your clients and partners stay safe and keeping them comfortable, they are sure to remember this and similar gestures on your part. As you can see, sometimes you need to plan to impress someone well enough to make the deal happen, whatever it may be.
Mirroring and mimicking
We spontaneously already mirror the people we admire and those that we consider to be similar to us. However, you can utilize this trait and turn it into a skill during first-time business encounters. By mirroring the people we converse with, we actively try to send a clear message that they set the tone of the interaction, and that we respect their boundaries.
By matching the intensity of their handshake, responding with a smile, and staying at a comfortable distance to respect their personal space, you create a comfortable environment for everyone in the conversation. This simple “trick” helps wherever you are, so you can let your hosts take the lead, and they’ll appreciate your willingness to respect their social and cultural norms in return.
Punctuality is a world-wide norm
The business world is constantly evolving, and even as we witness new pandemic-related business travel changes, we can still safely say that some rules apply to the entire world, and they always will. For example, we keep hearing about the Swiss being incredibly punctual, and the same applies to conducting business in Japan and Germany.
Making a commitment to be somewhere at a certain time should be something you respect no matter if you’re in Japan, Germany, or casual Spain and Greece. Even if you risk being the first one there and wait for the others to show up, punctuality is still deeply valued wherever you go.
International business etiquette has had ample time to develop and evolve to embrace certain norms that stand to this day. Knowing these norms is sometimes not enough to impress your potential clients or partners, so it’s best to brush up on your knowledge of local and regional social norms that you can try your best to include.
You can adapt your presentation, all the way to your language, and your scheduling steps to accommodate these unique quirks. Such effort will go a long way in helping you leave a powerful first impression, and it can be the decisive factor in launching your business into the leading ranks of your industry.