I recently had the opportunity to travel to Shanghai, Beijing, Wuhan, Hong Kong, and Macau as a part of my International Business Entrepreneurship Experience at Washburn University. Besides having one of the most amazing times of my life, the most valuable part of this trip was getting first-hand experience on what it means to be a business professional in a rapidly growing global economy.
Prior to departure, there were a few things I knew for certain:
- I would be traveling for 34 straight hours before I arrived in Shanghai.
- Once I arrived I would be (at a minimum) 7,046.4 miles away from the comforts of my apartment.
There were also a few things I didn’t know (yes, shocking … I know):
- I was clueless about what type of meats I was going to eat.
- I had no idea how much my perspective on my life, my education, and my career was going to transform.
We were a group of six outgoing, adventurous college students with two main objectives:
- Partner with Chinese students attending Wuhan University of Science and Technology to analyze a Chinese company and provide value-adding recommendations to their current business operations.
- Do as much cool stuff as possible. To us that meant see as many sights as possible (The Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square, etc.), eat lots of mysterious food from street vendors, and drink as much milk-tea as humanly possible.
I’m pleased to say we fulfilled both of our objectives. But that got me thinking – what does it mean to be a business professional in a global economy? Businesses are constantly looking for ways to expand into global markets. So as business professionals today, we must start to evaluate what international business means to our companies and our livelihood.
Now that I’ve recovered from my jet lag, I have created a list of things to remember when conducting business globally.
1. Understand That Communication Skills Are Essential:
Language barriers and differences in non-verbal communication pose a significant challenge when working with teams. Do a better job of actively listening and make sure your message is clear and concise. Listen to what people are trying to tell you, not just what they say.
2. Be Mindful of Cultural Differences:
These differences affect everything you do, especially managing human resources. Remember there is cross-cultural variation in what people value the most and what their sources of motivation include – what works for your home team may not work in this new environment.
3. Fully Immerse Yourself in the Culture:
Everyone is going to go through a bit of culture shock when visiting a different country. The trick is to just dive in and shed the cultural limitations you arrived with. Eat the food, participate in the customs and allow yourself to have a great time. You never know where your next partnership will start, and in our business, partnerships are the key to success.
So I’m curious … have you ever been abroad? Share your experiences with us and what helpful hints you have for global travelers.
Bita Givechi is one of jhP’s newest partners and contributes to our team as an Account Coordinator. Bita recently graduated with honors and earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Washburn University. She has a passion for combining creativity and marketing strategy to deliver powerful results for our clients and is always looking for ways to learn more about … well, anything really!