Building rapport is essential to any relationship and doing so with individuals who are, in the majority, going to be met virtually, is more important than ever. Understanding local culture, being aware of local custom, current affairs (as simple as that may sound) anything that shows a genuine interest, rather than a straightforward ‘transaction’, is crucial. Equally, practical matters such as commuting, the reality of local or regional travel, right down to how a package is constructed require focused research and preparation.
Face time in business collaboration is crucial, and for many international businesspeople, video conferencing is initially the best way for this to happen. Even though we don’t have to leave the country for an international video conference, the same rules apply as if meeting face to face, i.e. understanding cultural etiquette, body language, focus, and just as importantly, humour.
Virtual meetings are generally shorter than face-to-face meetings, reduce the carbon footprint, save travel time, reduce security risks, and, of course, cut costs.
However, even with conference and collaboration tools continually improving, being more time efficient and environmentally friendly, nothing replaces the human touch when required.
Meeting in person makes an impactful difference in building trust. Working with different nationalities and cultures, meeting face to face in somebody’s office, in their own surroundings, you do gain a greater understanding of the framework of their business, your client as a person and the nuances of the way they work.
Questions such as: What behaviours define your culture? Are employees truly engaged? What is the working environment like? What is the human skill set needed to fit in with the organisation and also are there other opportunities to work together? Questions not as easily explored via video conference, some even impossible to answer. In one visit all questions can be answered with clarity and therefore further cementing a client relationship.