These days, international business people don’t face the same communication barriers that their predecessors did. Communication technologies expand daily, with continuous innovations rolling out to help organizations reach across the globe and make big waves in their industries.
These technologies are more intuitive, complex, and user-friendly than the fax machines of yesteryear.
Reaching a global audience
What works for your company when it communicates domestically may be perceived completely differently overseas. It’s essential to know your audience when communicating with individuals or organizations in other cultures.
Reaching outside your comfort zone and adapting to the expectations and assumptions of each particular audience will win major points, whether you’re communicating B2B or B2C. You should think about the following seven major factors in perception when trying to communicate with people in other countries.
1. Mind your manners
How do your global colleagues or customers prefer to communicate? Are they formal and professional in their email communications, or would they prefer a friendly hello in their inboxes?
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Is it appropriate to chat online with a foreign business partner or is this frowned upon, with email or a phone call being the preferred method? Do some research into the practices in the nation with which you are working and learn the answers to the preceding questions to determine how to proceed online and offline.
2. Learn the lingo
It’s not expected that you and all your personnel have to be fluent in every language represented by your customer base or colleague spread. In-house ambassadors for every language can become expensive.
Translation services are reliable, but at the very least you can try to learn how different items are referred to in different countries. Even foreign individuals who speak English will refer to things differently: going to the loo, for example.
It’s important to know who says what, so you don’t confuse your audience … or worse, offend them.
3. Understand trends
Which social media platforms are your audience members using? Do your potential global customers prefer a certain color or style of music? What are the current events in the countries with which you will be doing business?
Understanding trends and items of interest will help you to connect better with the people you’re targeting. If you’re in a business meeting with Japanese individuals, you may bring up the latest business news in Tokyo; and in India you might mention the current cultural holiday.
Being uninformed looks unprofessional, and knowing what is currently happening will always give you an extra edge when you’re reaching out.
4. Transcontinental toolbox
While you might be getting mega frequent flyer miles and decent air rates, it’s unlikely you’ll travel abroad every time you want to speak to your global audience. There are many tools you can employ to help push your global reach.
Of course the Internet is a vast resource and mobile devices and other telecommunications options are expanding and evolving all the time. However, the following tools may make international discussions easier for your organization.
Many applications give you the capability to transform your typed message into a designated language and receive the other individual’s typed message in English. This can be an incredibly convenient way to relay messages quickly, especially in the B2B realm — but beware.
These types of chat translators should be used only in colloquial, casual conversations, and sometimes there are still hiccups.
Imagine a world where a website can be created in one language and in one click, it can be translated into another language of your choice. Developers can manage such a feat and plugins are getting close.
This could be an essential tool if you do a great deal of business in a region where translation to a language such as Spanish or Arabic would be useful. Again, be cautious and aware that auto-translators can sometimes misinterpret intent.
7. Translation consultation
The best way to communicate globally and ensure all vital transactions and documents are clear in both directions is to hire a translation company. This is especially the case in the legal field and in situations where legal terms and specifications are inflexible.
International communications can be extremely sensitive and require a great deal of empathy, research, and courtesy. Understand the needs and concerns of your audience and employ the appropriate tools, and get assistance if you need to, for the best results.