To manage relationships is always hard, especially from a distance.
I am leaving aside personal relationships as an issue I still haven’t mastered properly. The following advises are for business purposes only.
Here, are some examples of useful online resources that can make interacting with international partners easier, from translating pleasantries to making sure you don’t accidentally call them in the middle of the night.
1. Basic Information
Coming from a small East-European country, believe it or not, I came across some people that didn’t even know we have are own country already and we are not part of the Soviet Union anymore! And this is not good if you want to make business with me.
Before you even get started, it’s important to know the basic information about your client’s country. Usually the most thorough and reliable way, but also boring, to bone up is through the country’s official webpage.
Wikipedia will always be on your side too. This information includes official languages, government make up, population estimates, GDP, currency, time zone, and calling code.
If you want to stand out with a very good knowledge check out The World Factbook (not to be confused with Facebook) maintained by the CIA. It includes “information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 266 world entities.”
2. Time Difference
Time Zone Converter is one way to keep all zone differences on track. The site lets you convert any time from a huge range of possible countries and zones.
World Time Zone is a more graphical display of time zones across the globe, that means a world map with the current time in each region.
No matter how you say it, it’s important to speak a little of your client’s home tongue.
Warning! Though their language range is impressive, the software is not sensitive as a human translator and often will give you grammatically wrong phrases with totally different meaning.
4. Cultural essentials
Last, but most important. When dealing with other cultures is important to know what is considered good taste, and what can leave bad impression, even though you are used doing it everyday in your country.
Remember, everything can be misunderstood – colors, flowers, invitations, smiles, even a look. Things can get extreme if you are from Europe and are visiting China or Russia. Did you know Chinese people spit while eating even on a business meeting! (I didn’t see it fortunately, but heard some experiences).
With a small preparation you would enjoy seeing others’ culture peculiarities. Way to Russia is very helpful online travel guide with many customs and habits explained.
Extremely useful website is International Etiquette Guide. And the best thing is that even if you are well prepared there will be always something to surprise you and make you feel unsure. Don’t be afraid to ask because it can get always worse.
Good luck! 祝你好運！