Getting the most from trade missions

Written by PROFIT-Xtra

Last issue, the owner of a Waterloo, Ont.-based communications company wrote to ask PROFIT-Xtra readers:

“I recently received an invitation to apply to attend an international trade mission. I think I’d like to go, but I know very little about how these missions work. Mostly, I just don’t want it to be a waste of time. I’m wondering if any of your readers have ever been on one, and if so, can they say what it was like? Any tips on getting a lot out of it?”

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Allan Shaw, NEXX Step solutions:

There are a multitude of possible taboos and pitfalls when trying to establish business relationships with a foreign company. Research, research and research will be the key to your success and ability to navigate cultural differences, which can create embarrassing moments and kill the potential of any deal.

The business card, a valuable tool in networking, can present an unfavourable impression without your knowledge in some Asian countries.  In North America, it’s customary for your company name to be prominent, whereas in many Asian countries it’s the individual’s name and title that take prominence on the card. On other occasions, the exchanging of gifts and sharing of personal beliefs and philosophies are all part of negotiations.

There are several books available written by those who have tested the international business market and the lessons they’ve learned along the way. Two that I would recommend are The Do’s and Taboos of International Trade: A Small Business Primer and Essential Do’s and Taboos: The Complete Guide by Roger E. Axtell.

For his answer, Allan Shaw will receive a copy of Creating Competitive Advantage, by Jaynie Smith.

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