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Global Business Etiquette for Your Brand

If your company is based in the United States, you are likely familiar with business etiquette here in North America. It would be normal for you to arrive on time (or better… early!) and shake someone’s hand when you greet them during a business meeting, for example, or to even invite fellow associates out for dinner to both discuss the agenda and socialize with your colleagues.

If you’ve never given thought to globalization and expanding your business to an international market, it is likely you might also not have considered how business etiquette may differ in other countries and how adapting to these differences could vastly impact your ability to perform well in a global market.

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Translating and/or localizing your product and services are a great first step to entering the global market. You can read more about the importance of localizing your product here. However, localization isn’t the only step in moving your business forward in a foreign culture. It’s probable that you will need to work directly with other business associates in the target country for a successful launch, so learning a little about proper business etiquette there can really go a long way. It is not necessary to learn each and every custom in every location where you plan to do business, but it will help if you have a basic understanding of how business etiquette works in each one.

If you are holding a business meeting in Mexico, for instance, it would not be uncommon for the meeting to begin a little late, and for your colleagues to engage in an embrace as a greeting, instead of a handshake, once a perceived friendship is established. Conversely, if you are conducting business in Germany, arriving late is considered rude and business meetings are very formal (always shake hands and greet someone as Herr [Mister] last name even when you know them well).

In China, it can be inappropriate to begin your meeting by discussing the deal you want to close directly. This may be considered rude, and you may come home without the deal you had hoped for. Instead, it is more appropriate to develop a relationship with your business partner and avoid interrupting him/her at all costs! When handing your business card to someone in China, or receiving one from a potential business partner, do so with both hands. This is considered a sign of respect.

Since there is no global standard of business etiquette, we recommend always researching the area you’re traveling to (or speaking with) to ensure you are abiding by that country’s customs and standards. This shows respect for your business associates abroad and makes a good impression for your products and services. Being prepared shows that you are dedicated to doing business in that area and will greatly improve your chance of success when launching your localized product or service.

Foreign Language Social Media Marketing: From Post to Purchase

Social Media is a key strategy for just about any business’ international marketing strategy. Having an engaging foreign language social media presence is not enough, however. Once you engage your users on social media platforms, it is essential that users have a positive experience from the moment they click on your post to the moment they check out and purchase your service or product. Here are a few ways you can ensure this experience is seamless for your foreign language market.

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1.    Choose social media channels carefully depending on your target market. Facebook and Twitter may be dominant players across many international communities, but you may also find that your target market hangs out on social media channels you are unfamiliar with. If you are marketing to consumers in China, for example, you will want to familiarize yourself with their top 3 social media channels: WeChat, Tencent QQ, and Sina Weibo.

2.    Localize your content. Language is the first step, and it’s vital to getting it right. Proper translation of your posts is critical to making sure your message is received in a positive way. Since “speaking” to your audience in the U.S. is different than speaking to those in another country, localization is the next step after translation. Not only do your words need to translate well, but the images, colors, slogans, etc. that you use must also resonate with potential customers. Knowledge of trends and culture will take you far with this step. But don’t worry if you aren’t sure how to tackle localization. Professionals specializing in localization for various markets will be a key factor in the big picture, and you can hire someone to help you.

3.    Focus on where your content takes your audience. Once you’ve engaged your audience with social media posts, make sure the pages you link to are also translated and localized for this market. If the page your post directs users to is only in English, potential customers will get confused. Instead, provide links to pages specifically designed for them. They will be more inclined to continue reading about your product or service if it is in their own language and localized to fit their demographic and culture.

4.    Ensure your checkout experience is tailored to your market. If you have spent the time and money to localize your social media posts and product landing pages for your target demographic, the last step is the “buy” button or checkout experience. If your target market resides in Germany, for example, the total amount due should be shown in Euros and the shipping and billing address fields should populate with the proper fields for a German address and not request a U.S. zip code, for example. The consumer should not feel confused by this step. Instead, they should feel confident that their items will be delivered to them without any hitches.

Knowing how to guarantee a seamless experience, from the time your team uploads your posts to the moment the consumer makes a purchase, is key when beginning your international social media-marketing journey. When done correctly, international and foreign language social media marketing can deliver tremendous ROI and turn a sizable profit for your business.

How to Become Known as the "Go-To" Realtor Among Speakers of Other Languages

With the ever-growing number of LEP individuals in the United States, it may seem like learning multiple languages would be the best way to help grow your real estate business. According to HUD, nearly 9% of the U.S. population has limited English proficiency, and about 65% of those LEP individuals speak Spanish at home. Although being able to speak with buyers in their own language is helpful, it thankfully isn’t the only way to connect with this market. Here are a few ways you can become their go-to realtor in other ways.

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1.     Find your resources. Many state REALTOR® associations provide translated copies of forms and contracts for association members. If you are a member of your state association, be sure to request this information in the languages you encounter most often. Work with lenders and title companies who offer translations of their documents, as well. A buyer who understands what he or she is agreeing to is more likely to feel appreciated and supported during the purchasing process, and therefore, more likely to recommend you and your office to friends and family when they are considering purchasing a property. The Federal National Mortgage Association, Fannie Mae, offers a translated glossary and other forms in Spanish, as well. It is worth downloading these forms for your clients to ensure they understand the process.

2.     Offer interpreting services when necessary. It is vital to ensure that your clients understand the entire property purchasing process. If your client does not completely understand what is happening, you could potentially omit steps that may be important to him/her. Your client could, for example, forego a home inspection contingency in the purchasing agreement without realizing it if they misunderstand what you’ve said in a review of the contract itself. Providing an interpreter, either in person or over the phone, will help your client feel more at ease asking and answering questions, especially when it comes to the more complicated or technical components of  contracts and negotiations.

3.     A little effort goes a long way. You don’t have to be fluent in another language to make a lasting and positive impression on your LEP clients. Make an effort to learn a few key phrases and greetings in the languages you come across most frequently. Your clients will appreciate the effort, knowing you’ve taken the time to learn how to greet them in their own language. You should also learn more about the culture of your LEP clients when possible. Knowing whether to greet with a handshake, or another form of greeting will go a long way with your clients. Handing your customers a professionally translated one-page sheet with information about you and your background can truly sell them on wanting to work with you as their realtor. It shows that you took the time to provide them information in the language in which they feel most comfortable, and you’ve told them more about yourself, which makes them put trust in you and your expertise.

Bonus Tip! The National Association of REALTORS® offers language books and programs to their members at no additional charge. You can search for offerings on their website at https://www.nar.realtor/library 

As the foreign-language market continues to grow here in the U.S., becoming the go-to realtor for one or some of these demographics has huge growth potential for your real estate business. Buyers who have a positive experience with you and your office are likely to recommend you to their friends, family, and colleagues who may need someone more sensitive to their language needs. If you’ve found other ways to effectively engage with your foreign-language market, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below!