by: Tracy Wilen
Conducting business overseas is a necessity today for executives who seek the upper ranks in management. With over 50% of women in the workforce today you should be aware of the challenges and advantages that you have in global business. Asia is one of the fasted growing business regions and for many female executives their first business experience. Many American women are surprised to see how few women are in management in Asian firms and they do not expect the cultural role biases that they face. Females do not necessarily walk into the business meeting with the same level of credibility that their male colleagues might have. There are steps which you can take to help ensure your credibility with Asia:
Have an introduction before you go from upper management or a credible third party. This can be done by a fax, a phone call, email or at the first meeting if necessary face to face through a formal introduction. The introduction should highlight your credentials and show that your company is endorsing you to do business on their behalf. If you are an entrepreneur send a fax and literature on your company in advance of your first meeting. Include your bio if you have a strong background (education, titles, honors etc.). One woman entrepreneur sent a video tape of herself at work with her employees in additional to company literature to illustrate this size and credibility of her firm
Bring business cards and a lot of them. Business cards overseas have a lot of significance as they indicate what your position is within the company. Your Asian counterparts will want to understand how you fit into the corporate hierarchy. Make sure your title is clear. Good examples of titles are Marketing Manager, Vice President etc. Titles such as consultant or specialist may not clearly translate into a position in their firm. Have your business cards translated to the local language on the back of your card. Be aware that a Japanese translation for example, is not appropriate for countries outside of Japan. If your trip is last minute have your cards translated at the hotel you are staying at in Asia. Many hotels have overnight translation services. A translated business card indicates that you are interested in doing business with this country and that your company has made the investment to translate your business cards so that you can be more effective.
If you are traveling with a group make sure each person understands their role in the business meeting. To ensure this initiate a pre-meeting before you to discuss the roles and responsibilities of each team member. It is important for women to do this so that their role is clearly understood by both sides. In actual meetings in Asia, dialog and eye contact may be directed toward men. You need to make your peers aware that they should resist answering inquiries which are best handled by you.
Dine with your counterparts when you are overseas and when they visit here. Dinner is often viewed as an extension of the business meeting. While business many not be discussed it will be a time for you and your counterparts to establish a relationship which is the basis of conducting business in Asia.
With all this advice, do know that women are successful in business in Asia. They are frequently viewed as different than the local women and men setting them apart as business executives. Women indicate that due to their adaptive styles they learn more quickly then their male colleagues to foster strong working relationships which is necessary for Asian business
About the Author:
Tracey Wilen is Author at http://www.globalwomen.biz