It’s important to nurture business relationships to improve reputation and establish a good working relationship amongst clients, colleagues, and competitors. This statement is especially true when it comes to international relationships as it’s important to trust who you’re working with when you’re doing vital business over long distances.
Knowing how to navigate and build a strong international business relationship will help your business grow and make sure you never get sued during a disagreement, such as a breach of contract, if the relationship goes south.
To help you achieve the best relationship possible, we’re going to share five essential tips that will help you create a strong business relationship with an international company.
How Do You Create a Strong International Business Relationship?
Creating a strong business relationship internationally is similar to doing it domestically, aside from a few differences. Here are five ways you can ensure a strong international business relationship:
1. Build Rapport
Building rapport is especially important when you’re forming a relationship across cultural boundaries. Try reading up on your new market and learning about its customs and history so you have a better idea of how to approach conversations with your new business associates.
You could even spend some time in the country you’re expanding into so you can see first-hand how relationships are formed.
Once you’re conducting business with someone in this market, you can start to learn more about them. Ask yourselves questions about what hobbies they have and what they have done in their personal business career that you can talk to them about.
If you do visit the country, invite them out to a meal or a fun activity you know they’d be interested in.
Taking the time to create a real relationship with your new associates that extends beyond the immediate boundaries of the business you’re doing together will help you build stronger bonds as international business allies.
2. Be Transparent and Honest
If you’re honest, transparent, and tell it like it is, you will appear much more credible in the eyes of your new international business associates.
This means never lying to your partners in the short term to make situations easier on yourself. If there’s a difficult conversation to be had, be upfront instead of ignoring it and allowing it to become a bigger issue than it needs to be.
You also need to be open about what your company stands for and what you’re looking to achieve from this new relationship. Tell them who owns your company, how much you turnover each year, who your major clients are, and explain any key projects you’re currently undergoing.
Being honest and open from the get-go will provide your new international business relationship with the strong foundations it needs to grow.
3. Set Realistic Expectations
In the same vein as the last tip we shared, setting realistic expectations is the best way to make sure your international associates are never let down and your relationship isn’t tarnished.
No company, foreign or domestic, likes it when expectations aren’t met. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a deadline, a product specification, or the outcome of a new release, if your associates have an expectation of you that isn’t met, it will be bad for your relationship.
Telling your new international business associates that you expect to be a market leader in two months might seem a bit fishy and if you miss that deadline, it only compounds the issue. Make sure not to oversell yourself and be realistic about your business forecasts.
4. Listen to Their Advice
When it comes to forming a strong international business relationship, the conversation must go both ways. You will know your reasons for partnering with them, but why not ask them why they want to undergo business with you?
Learn what their goals are and what motivates them as a company. Once you have that information in your back pocket, you can make sure that whatever business you’re doing with them aligns with their goals.
Not only will this help you build a strong relationship with your international allies, but it will also prevent you from falling into the trap of assuming what works for you at home will work in a foreign market.
5. Own Up to Mistakes and Correct Them
Everyone makes mistakes in business, and this is especially true when you’re venturing into new territory. Contrary to popular belief, the mistakes themselves are usually more understandable to a business associate than the way they’re handled.
Trying to cover up or downplay a mistake you’ve made will only convince your international business partners that there are other things you’re covering up.
Instead, you should gracefully admit to any failing on your part and explain what went wrong in a way that your new associates can understand. If you find yourself in a position where you’ve over-committed to something and can’t deliver, inform your associates as soon as possible, apologise and make a new promise that you can achieve.
Not only will this give your associates more reason to trust you, because they know that when you make mistakes they’ll be informed immediately, but it will also encourage them to do the same. Take ownership of your mistakes to build better business relationships.
Are These the Only Tips for Creating a Strong International Business Relationship?
In this post, we’ve shared our top five tips for building a strong relationship with an international business associate.
As with all advice, these tips aren’t the only ones out there, but they are the main things you need to get right if you hope to build strong business relationships abroad. All you have to do is get to know your new associates’ national and business culture, be open with them about your goals, listen to theirs, set realistic expectations, and own up to your mistakes.