When starting out in any business venture, the natural assumption is that most of your clientele will be domestic. This is a fair assumption to make, but depending on your business the internet may have other ideas. With your business being discoverable by anybody on earth, it stands to reason you may prove attractive to some individuals overseas. These represent valuable opportunities, but it is easy for one to ruin it by not understanding who they are dealing with.
Most of it comes down to being understanding and recognizing you are dealing with a human being, but there are some other considerations to take into account that might not be clear at first.
Let’s get this part of the way first – remember the differences in timezone. A convenient time for you might be the middle of the night for your client. There are plenty of online tools to help you figure out what time it is where your client lives, so there is no excuse. When setting up a time to contact them – whether as a cold call, catching up using an app like Covve, or setting up a meeting it is very important you keep the time difference in mind.
Sometimes this means accepting that you or the other will have to connect outside of regular business hours. However, if you handle things properly and communicate clearly, you can typically find a time that is convenient for both of you.
Know the customs and taboos
When working internationally, the most important thing to remember is that you’re not dealing with your usual audience. This is especially important if you are in the marketing business but it applies to all sorts of different companies. Certain products, expressions, or ideas might not be understood by a foreign audience or even be viewed as offensive.
When speaking with a client, make sure to ask if there is anything they can think of that is acceptable for where you’re living but not acceptable elsewhere. Furthermore, doing research on the nation can work wonders for helping you to avoid accidentally offending somebody.
Adjust your speech
As a general rule – avoid colloquialisms. While this can be difficult for many, colloquialisms are often very regional and most are unlikely to understand what you’re trying to say. This can lead to miscommunication as they attempt to parse what you stated, or even delay the conversation in attempts to clarify. The worst case is if you are misunderstood.
As a corollary to this – try to avoid using their colloquialisms unless you’re comfortable with the language and culture. It’s one thing if you have lived there for a couple years, but if you’re an outsider it is best to not risk using the expression incorrectly. This is also true when attempting to communicate with a client in their language – only do so if you’re confident with the language. If they reach out to you they probably know your primary language based off your social media profiles.
At the end of the day, the most important part to connecting with international clients is to show respect. You are one professional speaking with somebody in need of your services. They expect expertise, not arrogance. The basic instincts you have developed when working with other customers will apply here. They may require a level of adjustment to account for foreign customs and traditions, but overall – you know what you’re doing. Just make sure you show proper deference and respect to your client, and things will go well.
Obviously how that respect is shown can vary, but dealing with international clients does not have to be daunting. It is no more than what you are already used to.