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There’s no big secret or easy trick to doing business overseas. There are, however, some common traits that the best business people have in common when it comes to conducting business internationally. These men and women are able to forge lasting, lucrative business partnerships by following a few important guidelines that might not be evident if you’re accustomed to doing business domestically.

Here are five of those important rules to follow in order to successfully do business internationally.

1. Always Seek Clarification

Communication isn’t the easiest when you’re not dealing with someone face-to-face. Misunderstandings are common when talking via email, phone calls and the like. That’s why it’s critical to always clarify things if there’s the slight chance of misunderstanding.

It might feel a little tedious to constantly ensure everything is understood, but it’s well worth the effort. The people you’re dealing with internationally will appreciate the lack of confusion, and so will you.

Ask a lot of questions and run everything by the international partners after a meeting. Clearly laying out your expectations – and having them do the same – will save a lot of time and hassle. Having everyone understand their roles and what’s expected of them is a big benefit.

2. Know the Local Time

One of the problems with international communication is the time difference, yet it’s surprising how many businesspeople don’t take this into account when making a call or sending an email.

Obviously, emergencies need to be responded to promptly no matter what the time is. For less-urgent dealings, it’s important to schedule calls and meetings at a time that works best for everyone. There probably won’t be a perfect time for either party, but respecting the time differences will ensure clearer communication.

3. Understand the Culture

A clash of cultures is possible depending what country you’re doing most of your dealings with. A difference in culture might not be readily obvious, yet it’s important to do some research to ensure there are no unintended offenses.

Different countries might have a different sense of humor, so a joke or sarcastic remark might only cause confusion. Similarly, in some countries, it’s very important to pay proper deference to higher-up members of the company.

There are even different mobile customs around the world that need to be taken into account. Brazilians, for example, are known to ask “who is this” even when they’re the ones initiating the call. Italians, meanwhile, are more likely to answers their phones even in the middle of meetings. These habits might seem rude to an American, yet they show why it’s important to be informed about different cultures and customs.

4. Never Disappoint

When you’re not working with someone face-to-face, it’s even more frustrating when they fail to deliver on something promised. You don’t have that close personal connection, so all you notice is the failure instead of their other positive traits. If a co-worker in the office messes up, you can be a little more tolerant. When someone you don’t know messes up, it’s completely maddening.

With that in mind, make sure you aren’t the person who messes up. If you always deliver on what’s promised and avoid mistakes, you’ll be seen as invaluable to your international partners.

5. Add a Personal Touch

Working with someone you rarely or never see face to face can feel a little cold and impersonal. To alleviate this feeling of distance, try to add a personal touch to your dealings. Get to know a little about the international people you’re working with in order to strengthen the relationship. It’s a nice touch that helps the proceedings go along smoothly.

No matter where you’re doing business, it’s important to take these things into consideration.

– Image by payachi