How To Manage International Relationships In Business

The business world has transformed dramatically in the last century. No longer are business linked to a single locale, for the internet has made everything-and everyone-connected. When you have international relationships, it can be difficult to keep them well-managed, but it’s important to nurture these relationships so they continue to grow. Here are some tips on how to manage those international relationships.

Stay In Frequent Contact

The number one tip is to stay in contact. Don’t let months pass before you interact with your international partners. Keep them updated on your business, and ask about theirs. Let them know that you’re still a partner and very much interested in maintaining and expanding your relationship with them.

There are many ways to stay in contact, but using an international conference calling service can make your interactions more personalized. While there’s nothing wrong with emails and electronic communication, it’s more professional to discuss important topics over the phone or in person.

Contact your international partners at least once monthly so that everyone stays updated and they don’t forget about you. Keeping yourself in the spotlight will usually make you the first choice when they consider using a service your business offers.

Maintain Your Credibility.

Business relationships depend largely on your credibility not only as a business but as a person as well. If you can’t be bothered to deliver on requests or show up to meetings, you’re probably not going to have much success in the international sector.

If your business promises to deliver on something, like an order or customer service issue, it’s extremely important that you do so. Customers and partners alike will pay close attention to the integrity and credibility of a business, and make decisions on whether to utilize said business based on those factors.

If you find that you can’t deliver on something, it’s equally as important to communicate to your partner why you can’t deliver or will have to be late. Try not to make this a habit, but of course, life happens and things will come up that are out of your control.

Simply take the time to communicate the issue to your partner, and you’ll find that they respect your honesty. Honesty is always the best policy, and your reputation as a business depends on it. Don’t be afraid to let your partners know what’s really going on. You may even be able to solve the issue together.

Educate Yourself On Your Partner’s Culture

With international relationships comes differing cultures and customs. There a literally thousands of cultures throughout the world, and all are unique and include practices you may not be familiar with.

Take the time to educate yourself on your partners’ customs. What do they do differently? What should you avoid doing to respect their culture? You can even ask questions directly of your partners, such as “can you explain what this practice means to your culture?”.

Not only does this promote good relationships and respect among your international partners, but it also grants perspective, and therefore understanding and empathy. Being familiar with other cultures and their practices has benefits far outreaching that of business alone.

Meet In Person At Least Once Per Year

While communicating over the phone and the internet are important, at least once a year you’ll want to visit your partners in their country of origin.

Not only does this show respect, but it also gives you the chance to get to know your partners personally and vice versa. Often business relationships can transform into personal relationships as well, and visiting in person is an important part of maintaining those connections.

An international trip will no doubt be a little costly, but the benefits far outweigh the cost. Getting to know your partners and even their country of origin can creating a lasting bond. It also puts you ahead of the game in regards to other partners. If they have partners that never visit or communicate, they’ll remember that you made the effort to visit and stay in contact.

Treat Your Partners Like Valuable Assets

An international partner is a valuable asset to your company and should be treated as such. Having international partners gives your brand a reach that you otherwise couldn’t obtain without years of overseas marketing.

Treat your partners like the valuable assets they are. Be respectful and courteous, and let them know how much you value your partnership with them.

Don’t Backstab Or Undermine

Business is competitive and can sometimes get nasty as competition stiffens and the stakes rise. Remember that your partners are partners, not enemies. You want to nurture these relationships, not undermine them.

If you find a better opportunity elsewhere, let your partners know beforehand. If you have to terminate your relationship entirely, be sure to explain why (in person, if possible) and let them know that you value the relationship and the strides you’ve made together.

Breaking off a business relationship is never easy, but with a little consideration and empathy, it can be much more cordial. It’s also important to give your partners some warning before you intend to break things off.

Let them know you’re deciding to partner with a different company, but give them time to make other arrangements, especially if your products or services were essential to the production of their services and products.


Businesses are made up of people. Treating people kindly in business will give you a good reputation and help nurture the relationships you want to have. Be open, honest, and communicate often. Give a warning before you break things off, and most of all, be respectful of their business practices and customs, even if they’re different than yours.

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