The Importance of Understanding International Business Culture

Navigating Culture in International Business: 3 Tips

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Understanding international business culture is a top key to success for global organizations. As you take your company into new markets, you need to not only master the regulatory requirements, but you must also know your audience.

There are many differences between the United States and the rest of the world when it comes to cultural norms. These differences range from common greetings to scheduling business meetings and everything in between—each of which can make a huge difference when interacting with foreign partners, clients, and customers.

Read on for three key tips on how to understand and navigate cultural differences when expanding into new global markets.

Tip #1: Conduct Hands-On Research

While you can always research online and talk to colleagues who have been to your target country, the best way to fully understand your new location is to experience it for yourself. Hands-on international experience is a must when going global.

Not only will hands-on research give you a clearer picture of what to expect in your new country, but traveling to and investing time in your target market will also increase your credibility.

When planning your global expansion strategy, be sure to book a trip and bring along key members of your team to experience the culture first-hand.

Tip #2: Learn the Business Basics

The European market is a popular location for international growth for U.S. businesses. Its culture and familiar languages make the move to Europe an easier transition for most U.S. companies.

However, culture isn’t just customs and traditions ingrained in the country—it’s also the way people do business.

For example, in China, it’s expected that everyone involved in a business meeting receives a detailed agenda prior to meetings.

Additionally, business people should dress to impress when working in France as appearance is important in French culture.

Finally, when doing business in Brazil, it's important to avoid giving business gifts that are purple and black since those are colors of mourning. It’s also a bad idea to gift anything that’s sharp, such as a set of knives, which means you want to sever your association. However, you can give gifts that are unique to your country such as a book or trinket.

Tip #3: Work With an In-Country Partner

Despite all the on-hands research you and your team may conduct, you may not learn everything there is to know about your new country's culture. As a result, it’s smart to work with an in-country partner who can help you understand how to operate in the new market.

When choosing a partner, make sure they have years of experience in your country. If you choose to work with a global partner that is close to your HQ, make sure they have strong in-house expertise.

Also, find a partner with strong, diverse networking in your new market. A large network means that the provider has the ability to build strong relationships with many people, which is key in global expansion.

Simplify Global Expansion With Velocity Global

Velocity Global has assisted hundreds of companies to expand into over 185 countries and counting, each with unique challenges and goals. Our Employer of Record (EOR) solution can help you establish a presence in your new international market quickly and seamlessly—and virtually anywhere—without setting up entities or risking noncompliance with international employment laws.

As your EOR partner, we hire and pay your global team on your behalf so you can remain focused on your day-to-day operations. Is it time for your organization to go global? Contact us to learn more.

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