One of the things I always think about when working with professionals is that each one of us comes from a different place. Whether it’s in the U.S. or overseas, we each bring something to the business table, as a result of who we are and what cultures and traditions we have been raised with.
Learning about and understanding cultures is a great passion of mine. It’s what makes up our world and I find that fascinating. I work with a variety of clients from around the globe and I learn something new everyday.
Whether sitting in a conference room, dining out or having a phone conversation with a global client, one always must be aware of the cultural differences and how that effects conversations and the potential to do business. And many times, even this is not enough to secure a perfect business deal.
Most recently, I was part of a meeting with businessmen from Colombia, Tennessee, New York and Tampa, Florida. The meeting took place in an office in Miami. The meeting was to introduce a new TV content operator to a possible Spanish language TV content provider. Shortly after the introductions, the conversation became heated because the operator and content provider seemed to feel competitive with one another – this was the Colombian and the gentleman from Tennessee. Upon steering the conversation to the topic of types of content, the two men seemed to settle down. The Colombian pointed out at the end of the meeting, that he would only do business with people that he could trust and whom he felt could be his friends. He said something he believed in whole-heartedly, yet most Latino businessmen would not offer that information out loud in these circumstances.
The end result was a good one as the meeting progressed to a lunch at an Argentinian restaurant and the parties decided that they would meet again in a few weeks in Tennessee to see the operator’s facilities.
It is very typical for Latin American business people to first meet in a more casual friendly atmosphere, to get to know other potential business partners. In this case the men wanted to get down to business immediately. My partner and I should have trusted our guts and insisted on lunch first, followed by a less formal business gathering, as the first meeting.
When doing business internationally – even on U.S. grounds, it is imperative to trust your instincts in a case like this, as the end result could have ended disastrously. Lucky for us, both men ended up connecting and are looking forward to the next meeting to solidify what was laid on the table.