Increase your success with foreign business meetin...

Increase your success with foreign business meetings

If you’re lucky enough to enjoy the thrill of a jet set lifestyle as part of your working life, you may well be heading to far flung shores a couple of times a week. It doesn’t matter whether you are heading to Europe or the Far East to meet clients, potential suppliers or offshore employees, the language barrier can often be a hindrance to the productivity of any meetings you may have. Being successful depends on a lot of give and take between the two parties conducting the meetings. As such there are a number of strategies you can employ to maximise the time you spend abroad for business.

Learn The Lingo

It seems obvious, but it’s vital that you learn at least the basics of a foreign language if you are going to another country. There is no point turning up at a meeting to simply shout in English and speak marginally slower expecting this to miraculously help your fellow attendees to be fluent in your native tongue. This is arrogant, unpleasant and disrespectful. Instead, make an effort to learn business Japanese, Spanish or French. Simply by showing your fellow attendees at a meeting that you are taking lessons helps them recognise that you value them. Enrol on a course, attend some sessions and get your brain in a learning mode once again. You never know, you might actually enjoy it.

Take A Translator With You

Even if you are learning the language, not all of us are blessed with the talents of polyglots. Learning a new language is difficult, especially as you get older. We have busy, hectic lifestyles and cannot dedicate hours of study to the task of learning business Mandarin. Instead, you can call upon the services of a company like Lingvohouse translations. As an agency, they can supply an individual fluent in the language of the clients you will be meeting and can help you to communicate on a deeper level. They can also help with the translation of documentation, contracts, and paperwork.

Be Social

Travelling overseas to meet new people can be daunting to some and exciting to others. Even if you are not the most sociable person in the world, you need to try and make an effort to get to know your colleagues abroad on a more personal level. While you won’t want to know their life story, suggest heading for dinner or going for drinks. Knowing the personality of an individual and seeing what makes them tick can lead to a better understanding of their methods of working and decision making. At the very least, heading to a bar for a beverage will prevent you from feeling bored and lonely in your hotel room.

Jet setting across the globe for business sounds glamorous, but it can be hard work. Crossing time zones, getting used to different customs and communicating with clients can be tricky. However, implement some of these strategies and your time overseas can be just that little bit easier.


Christine Buske is a former academic who left science at the bench, and now considers herself a woman in tech. She is a frequently invited speaker, and enjoys talking about career transformation (particularly leaving academia for the business world), tech, issues around women in tech, product management, agile, and outreach. She is a proud Canadian resident, and qualifies as a "serial expat".

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