Hosting the first visit from abroad

David Iwinski Jr.

Managing director, Blue Water Growth

Contact

In a prior column, I wrote about how you can make your first trip abroad successful. However, often before a deal can be struck, your prospect will want to come and see you.

There are a few things you can do to make that visit both memorable and productive.

Building trust

When you have guests from offshore, they’ll want to visit your production facilities or distribution outlets. But first and foremost, they’re sizing you up to see what kind of role you’ll play in a long-term relationship. While Americans prefer to get right down to business, in this case take time to focus on making a friend first.

Logistical help

When setting up the visit, do more than suggest a hotel.

Many people from Asia, for example, may not be comfortable driving in the U.S., and there are cities where a taxi isn’t easy to find. If you don’t have the time or resources to provide transportation, arrange for a car service to be at their disposal.

Finding a capable translator, perhaps from a nearby university, is also a good idea.

First day

Because of the long flight, you may assume that the first day should be light, perhaps with time to sleep in and relax. This is not a good idea. The best way to help your guests get past jet lag is for day one to be vigorous with as much physical activity as possible.

A plant tour, city tour or visiting local distributors are all good ways to keep people moving. The events of the first full day should include a night out, perhaps at a local popular spot.

The idea is to keep your guest active and not let him or her head back to the hotel for a small nap that turns into being fast asleep at 5 p.m., setting up a week of drowsy, jet-lagged days.

Highlight the local sights

Your foreign guests will doubtless enjoy learning about sights of interest, those of culture, nature and historical interest.

One note in particular for Chinese guests — be sure to make trips to places with crowds and people. While people from the U.S. take many pictures of monuments and nature, people from Asia like to see other people having fun and engaging in group activities.

Food

If the visit is an extended one, food familiar to your guests might be appreciated at some point. If the trip is a week or less, most visitors prefer local cuisine.

Gifts

Your guests will mostly likely arrive bearing gifts that reflect the arts, crafts and products of their homeland. Be prepared to reciprocate with something small (since they’ll have to carry it home) and thoughtful that reflects your home and provides a personal remembrance of their visit.

The first trip abroad might be when you find opportunity, but when you prospects and partners visit you, it’s time to secure the relationship and the deal.

David Iwinski Jr. is the managing director of Blue Water Growth. A global business consulting firm with extensive experience and expertise in Asia, Blue Water Growth services include merger and acquisition guidance, private capital solutions, product distribution, production outsourcing and a wide variety of business advisory services for its Western and Asian clients.

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