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Published on December 4th, 2012
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Foreign Business Tips

Today’s business world is global. Its not enough that you do business in your own country; to truly tap into a market’s potential, you must consider how you can also take advantage of business opportunities in other countries. To help you out, we’ll be publishing a series of tips on doing business with foreign businesses. If you have your own tip based on experience, feel free to leave it in the comments, and we may include it in a future article.

Learn the basics of the language.

While not necessary, it can go a long way towards building your relationship with them; it shows that you respect them and are interested in their country and culture. The vast benefits of being courteous cannot be understated. Knowing the language can also help you get around if you visit the country itself; you’ll be able to converse with the citizenry, and find basic amenities like food and shelter.

Cultivate a personal relationship with your business partners.

In the U.S., and many other countries, a business relationship is purely functional, substance over style. However, a growing trend among countries and cultures, especially those in Asia, focus on cultivating a more personal relationship with their business partners. They don’t want to do business with the company, they want to do business with the people behind the company. This culture is so ingrained that, in some of these countries, such as Japan, it is traditional to exchange gifts and pleasantries before even beginning to discuss business. Take the time to get to know your counterpart in the other company and develop a friendship with them.

Even if the country that you’re partnering with doesn’t have this culture, it is still a good idea to develop a personal relationship with them. It shows that you care about your relationship, that it’s important to you, and that they’re more than just a walking, talking wallet. They’ll remember this, and, in the future, will not only be more likely to do business with you, they’ll also refer you to their other partners.

Write your contracts in the native language of the country you’re doing business with.

Doing so affords you a few legal protections. It ensures that they understand exactly what the terms of your partnership are. If your relationship should ever sour, you can take your case to the courts within their country. It is true that you could take it to your own courts; however, any rulings would be tempered by the fact that your former partner is from a different country, and thus under a different jurisdiction. Being able to take your case to their native courts, and having them be able to understand all the intricacies of your agreed partnership will make sure that any judgement rendered will be well-informed and fair.

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