In some countries, not being culturally aware could be hazardous to your well-being 🙂
I just returned from the UK where my company did a private seminar for prospects, featuring an industry analyst and a customer as speakers. It was a repeat of a very successful event we did two week ago in New York City.
While I would describe both events as equally successful, the audience dress, participation, reactions, and interaction reminded me that even for a seminar to two English speaking audiences, success was dependent on being culturally aware. In both cases we used locally based staff and event support. We even used a different analyst in the UK.
So in addition to all the skills I’ve been blogging about, I’ve been reminded of the fact that if your company / product has any aspirations of selling outside of your national boundaries – your ability to understand international business and cultures is critical.
Since I was in the UK, I also visited a few customers. In the course of casual conversation, I dropped a few comments about the upcoming wedding (you know, Will and Kate?) Well, to my surprise, none of the business men I talked to gave a rat’s arse about the upcoming festivities. It did open up interesting conversations about the “Royals” as costly monuments and icons to help drive tourism. Luckily, I stayed out of the debate between the Brits about whether or not they should abolish the whole royal thing (apparently a touchy subject).
Then there was my trip to Japan a few years ago to deliver a seminar as part of a product launch. I was “coached” by the local staff as to what to expect:
“Remember to pace your sentences so the translator can keep up. It’s impolite to rush.”
“Don’t expect too many questions if you address the audience. They will be very reserved in public.”
“Afterwards, they will line up and offer you their business cards with two hands and a bow. Usually with the senior-most person in the company first.”
“Make sure you address the head-honcho and not his subordinates unless he brings them into the conversation.”
Wow. I am glad I got all this down ahead of time, or I would have thought I was doing a eulogy at a funeral and not a business presentation.
In case case – if you aspire to PM ninja-dom, make sure you have that passport handy. Being able to go International is a big gold star on your resume.
So anybody else out there care to share their international Product Management or Marketing experiences? Go ahead… make my day.
- A Little Product Management Advice (tpgblog.com)