June 2, 2015
The first thing you notice about doing business on a global scale is that it’s a lot less glamorous than it sounds. Time zone conversions, cultural considerations and red eye flights aside, consulting with organizations on a global level is a very important part of what Kellen does.
Recently, Kellen colleague Debra Berliner and I had an opportunity to visit with one of our newest food and beverage clients based in Mannheim, Germany. All things considered, Mannheim is a smaller city about 45 minutes from Frankfurt. However, Manheim houses the German hubs of some of the most active global corporations including IBM, Siemens, Mercedez Benz and SAP.
Our trip was to kick off an exciting new project that helps span continents and the understanding of a very important aspect of the food and beverage market. We also wanted to take this as an opportunity to offer a few tips on how to navigate global projects and execute a truly impactful engagement:
1. Be Language Aware
Though neither Debra nor I count German as one of our languages, we thought it was important to learn at least a few key words and phrases. Learning how to say things like “hello” and “nice to meet you” and carrying around a translation app are simple tactics. They might not be the fullest extent that you can go to learn a language but it does help to show that you are language aware.
Very simply – being language aware shows that you at least acknowledge that the world may not run entirely on English. Though most global commerce will be translated, going out to eat and being able to thank your hosts and be cordial in their native language goes a long way to showing that you view yourself in the context of a larger, global experience.
2. Do Your Homework About Your Destination
No matter how much or how little time you spend outside of a conference room or business dinners, you should know at least a little bit about your destination. In this trip, for instance, our hosts took Debra and me on a sunset walking tour of the main avenue in Manheim. We had done a little bit of research ahead of time and were able to ask about certain elements of the architecture and the city’s history.
Though you may not want to walk around with your nose in a guidebook, this too shows that you are making an investment in the global nature of your business. Seeing that you are engaged and interested in forming meaningful relationships with your global contacts.
3. Reach Out For Understanding
Finally, differences in markets, cultures, and geographies are what make global commerce so challenging. However, it also opens up the opportunity to use your relationships to learn, together.
In this trip, we had brought over reams of insights on the client’s target demographic in the United States. In exchange, they brought us a full briefing on the European and regulatory and production landscape as it related to their project. By sharing this information, we not only advanced the interests of the project but of each other’s understanding of the global market.
Advocacy and communication on a global level are challenges that can present growth opportunities for even the most seasoned communications or association management professional. We are offering these three tips for you to make the most out of your next global project.
If you have tips of your own, let us know in the comments!