7 Essential Tips When Working With International Clients


Oh, the wonders of working with a global community. It’s exciting, isn’t it? But your company’s progress can come to a grinding halt in an instant if you’re not careful. Are you properly prepared for international relations?


Think about it: If politicians who study different cultures find it challenging to work together at times, you can’t expect everything to go smoothly always.


So, we’re going to help you navigate the waters and prevent a few problems. Simply make these tips part of your future planning.


Do You Understand the Culture?

Culture is one of the most difficult aspects to manage and one you can’t ignore. And remember, this includes a variety of aspects relating to daily life:

  • What takes priority?
  • What values do you live by?
  • Gender roles.
  • Music.
  • National holidays.


You know how you value your upbringing. Your international business partner is no different.


The Challenge
Your new colleagues may feel even more strongly about certain aspects of his or her culture. It’s a problem if you have opposing views or if it dictates how a meeting should take place. A simple gesture such as looking someone in the eye may seem insulting. Misunderstandings can also relate to:

  • Who is allowed to shake hands
  • How women will be addressed during a meeting
  • Who should pay for a business meeting meal
  • Some cultures’ beliefs that pricing shouldn’t be discussed upfront


The Solution
This requires research on your behalf. Don’t see it as time wasted. Consulting an embassy or doing online searches can lead to you impressing your new acquaintances more than your competition does. That’s long term planning and time well spent.


Think About Time Zones

The Challenge
When will you talk on the phone or via Skype if you’re rarely awake at the same time? You need a time that suits both parties.


The Solution
This is one area where it’s usually best to be accommodating. You and even your team may have to sacrifice early mornings or late nights once in a while. Your willingness to do so will make it more agreeable for your international colleagues to work with you and showing commitment will go a long way in establishing trust. It’s a small sacrifice which can bring you great rewards.


Be Clear About Currencies

The Challenge
Despite Crypto currencies, no global currency really exists yet. This means your business deal needs to take different currencies and their exchange rates into account. This can quickly cause conflict as both parties will want to benefit the most.


You also need to consider processing fees if payment is done be cheque. This needs to be worked into quotations and can affect your pricing exponentially.


The Solution
The important things are:

  • Discuss currencies at the very beginning of your journey together.
  • Don’t assume in which currency you’ll get paid.

It’s a difficult discussion that will pave the way for future rewards.


Luckily you also have better payment options than a few decades ago. You may:

  • Use Paypal to your benefit for easy transfers
  • Consider setting up bank accounts in other countries if your work will be long term

This will limit your currency conversion fees which will be beneficial to both parties.


Are You Legally Covered in Both Countries?

The Challenge
Apart from money, laws differ too. Are you aware your current contracts may not hold up in an international court?


The Solution
Here’s more intense homework that will pay off in the long run. You need to make sure the contract aligns with your own country’s laws as well as those of your new business associate’s. You’ll be glad you spent the legal fees when you realize it can prevent a lawsuit.


Catering for Different Audiences

The Challenge
How sure are you your current business tools will work with your new audience?

  • Does your website relate to your own country only?
  • Does your marketing material need to be in a different language?
  • Will your product packaging ensure safe usage in a new country?

It’s your responsibility to make yourself understood, not someone else’s to try and figure out your intentions.


The Solution
Market research is essential. You don’t want to invest time and money in a new venture only to have if fail because consumers or business partners don’t understand you (or have no real use for your product).


And yes, you may have to design a completely new website, marketing campaign and packaging to cater for the new audience. No one said this would be easy.


Be Wise About Politics

The Challenge
Another (very) difficult aspect to navigate is politics. Thanks to the media we’re all aware of what’s going on in other countries, but remember:

  • You can’t be 100% sure which stories are fake news.
  • Don’t assume your new colleague’s perspective or opinion.
  • What did your international partners see about your country on the news?


If one or both parties are passionate about their political beliefs a light hearted discussion can quickly turn serious or even lead to conflict.


The Solution
Our suggestion is to leave politics out of the conversation as far as possible. Of course, if your partner mentions it you can’t ignore it. In those cases take up the following mindset:

  • Show respect to all
  • Be open to opinions
  • Communicate a willingness to learn


Be Even Wiser About Humor

The Challenge
The challenges keep coming when you try to make jokes. Not everyone laughs at the same jokes and what you find funny can be seen as insulting to others.


The Solution
You may use a joke to break the ice in your usual meetings. When an international client arrives it’s best to stick to business and not risk a misunderstanding.


Last Tip: Never Assume

That’s a lot to remember so be prepared for an interesting new journey ahead. Here’s your most important tip: You can’t assume anything. Your discussions may be longer than you’re used to since it will take more time to break down talks in segments and ensure everyone stays on the same page.


It will take more effort but the exhilaration of international trade is worth it. Welcome to the global community.

About the Author:


Povilas V. Dudonis is a serial entrepreneur and likes to dig deep into methods and processes of business operations to find ways to reach maximum performance