How to get your online business profile ready for international negotiations?

Successful international business relationships are based on efficient negotiations. It is important for negotiators to be prepared to deal with unexpected situations. Having a clear understand of what’s necessary to attain thriving outcomes as well as be aware of relevant factors to the whole process will permit you to become successful. Ideally some of your team would have background in Digital and Social Media Marketing, or International business; but, getting your online business profile ready for international negotiations doesn’t have to be such a dreadful endeavor. All you need to do is remain focused on the facts and look for a way to build a professional relation with business partners.

Understand the process of negotiation

Negotiation is a process with several important phases and here are some places where digital technologies can help to short-cut or ease the international negotiation process:

  • pre-negotiation – something that can be done electronically via your website and social media profiles
  • opening pitch – could be done only through your company video introduction
  • relationship build-up – could be done online through professional social media
  • strategy review – best done face to face in a meeting but can work through online conferencing
  • bargaining – best done face to face in a meeting but can work through online conferencing
  • reaching agreements – best done face to face in a meeting but can work through online conferencing


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These are meant to keep a structure, whether dealing with local, national or international negotiators. There are some factors to take into account when dealing with people overseas though, such as cultural and language differences, legal systems, labor laws, tax regimes and business strategies and practices.

In special circumstances, government led bureaucracy, direct interferences and restrictive regulations might also obscure the negotiating scenario. Before getting started you will have to assess economic and political instabilities, business culture, ideological differences, and currency fluctuations. In the end, leaving aside theoretical agreements, international negotiations should focus on engaging an opponent to ensure a successful outcome.

What to include on your website

Your website is one of the first places where your counterparts will start researching your organization. This is why your website should have information about your business, products and services. For international negotiations especially if they involve different languages, you should make a version of it in a language of your target audience. If you would like to export to Germany perhaps you should have a web page or a micro site that details the main aspects of your organization in German as well as offers a local distributor or a contact in Germany.

Translating your copy

There are a number of automated tools such as Google Translate that allow a quick and easy translation of your website. However, these are not always accurate and if you are serious about developing international relations and want to avoid misunderstanding – a translation by a professional organization is a worthy expenditure.

Social Media Profiles

There are a number of social media profiles that tend to be used for business-to-business communication. Having a presence of your organization on these profiles increases your accessibility to your potential new counterparts. There are country specific differences when it comes to social media platforms – for example for German contacts it would be XING, French it would be viadeo.

Developing trust through social media

Social media presence of an organisation is not there to sell your services or products. However, it is there to develop trust with your potential customers whether these are domestic or international. For example, seeing that your blog is regularly updated and that you reply to comments on twitter shows that your organization is active and increases trust in the eyes of your audiences.

On the other hand if your profiles are not active or non existent this could be perceived as if you are hiding something that your negotiators need to find. This is not to say that due diligence of investigating your counterpart’s financial situation should be ignored at the stage of pre-negotiation research.

Efficient communication

With the multiplication and globalization of business transactions overseas, the English language is used on an international level across numerous different cultures. Better known as “off-shore” English, it must be employed when dealing with international negotiators.

When bargaining with people from countries where English is not an official language, it is important that you stay focused on “low risk English”; use grammatical structures, words and phrases that can be understood with ease, and try to avoid slang, idioms, complex structures and jargon.

Adopt appropriate negotiation tactics

The business etiquette is different from culture to culture, particularly when negotiating deals. For example, in the Japanese culture business cards or “meishi” as they are called, are extremely important. Exchanging business cards is a practice that must be respected. In Italythe Netherlands, and Germany, you should address business people by the academic title. It is important that you socialize when negotiating overseas.

The environment has to be attentively examined too. Make the most of the chance you have and close a good deal. Unlike the Americans, the British, and the Scandinavians who are more competitive and dominant, people in France, Latin America and Japan like to focus on the social aspects of a negotiation. They’re business ready but their goal is to build a professional relationship not just win the bigger share of the pie.

Understand that international negotiators have different styles of negotiation
It’s natural for international negotiators to have a personal bargaining style; we all have our own ways to seal great deals. When bargaining with people overseas, you should be ready for counterparts to adopt a different negotiation methodology. Meeting somewhere in the middle and agreeing to terms that can suit both of you equally is probably the best approach you can take to thrive.

The rhythm of a negotiation differs from culture to culture. In Southern Europe, the Middle East and India for example, the process is rather slow until one of the negotiators succeed in winning the trust of his opponent. In Northern Europe and the US, indirectness is not appreciated; people like to get straight to the point and not beat around the bush. The French see negotiations as an intellectual exercise; they’re focused on logic and they like to disprove or defend any hypothesis.

How to get your business profile ready for international negotiations

Negotiating with people from a different culture than yours can be challenging. The secret to landing a good deal is to be prepared for unexpected situations to occur. Don’t be a negativist and adopt a professional attitude. Before the meeting you could perform a little research. Know a little bit more about their customs and traditions, and search the web for the best negotiation approach.

Focus on having a goal, and negotiate your way to success through compromise. Mutual agreements and creating long term relationships should be among your top priorities. Before entering meetings with international negotiators, review and study their cultural characteristics and sensitivities. Use experienced and skilled translators if necessary, and adapt your bargaining pace and style accordingly. Spend some time establishing trust, and work your way to building a professional connection. Be patient and you’ll have a lot to win, not just a good deal.

By Davis Miller and!


About Aleksej Heinze

Passport to Trade 2.0 project leader. My research interests are in the area of disruptive innovation using information technology (IT) and the use of IT in business management. Topics include: enterprise 2.0; web 2.0, international business culture, search engine optimisation, and social media marketing.