International trade shows are a great way to grow globally, gain brand exposure and gauge a particular product’s fit abroad prior to investing large sums of money. The potential to meet countless vendors, distributors and end-users all in one place is endless. Shanghai, China, for instance, is projected to open a five million square foot show hall next year—just imagine the possibilities.
But, exhibiting internationally presents some unique challenges: exhibitors need to be aware of language barriers, cultural differences and even conversions in order to ensure an investment is a successful one. Keep reading for some simple tips on getting the most out of international trade shows.
Six tips to exhibiting internationally
- Language: Although many of the international contacts you make abroad will speak some English, there is still jargon, acronyms and metaphors that could cause communication to be lost in translation. Keep language simple and avoid slang and other buzz terms that cause confusion. You may want to download the Google® Translate app ahead of time—it has the ability to translate more than 70 languages.
- Conversions: Knowing your conversion rates eliminate confusion and errors. Outside of the U.S., for example, exhibits are measured in square meters, not square feet. A simple Google search of unit conversions will result in many tools that do the calculation for you. Currency is another consideration; a tool, such as Yahoo!® Currency Converter can help. Using credit cards and ATM machines may also prove beneficial in getting the best exchange rate.
- Policies: Many countries have strict laws or guidelines when it comes to product safety standards, technical requirements and union contracts. Tackling international policies and procedures without the help of an expert can get a company in hot water. Working with a local consultant may help. Don’t forget to show gratitude to your international helper with a gift of thanks. A logo’d candy jar filled with American favorites, like Hershey’s® Chocolate Kisses or M&M’s® makes a nice choice.
- Local laws: While traveling, you must obey local laws. For instance, in Singapore, the import, sale and manufacture of chewing gum has been banned. In Thailand, don’t drop a $20 bill on a windy day; it is illegal to step on money. Gov.UK offers advice and information on 225 countries or territories pertaining to local customs and laws when traveling abroad.
- Train: Provide training for people who will be representing your company. Training should address cultural differences including acceptable ways to greet and address visitors, different negotiating styles, the role women play in business, appropriate body language and acceptable topics of conversation. And, make sure your company’s team can be easily identified—provide each representative with a company-branded lanyard and badge holder. Don’t forget to have printed credentials translated.
- Follow-up: No matter the language or country, the importance of follow-up after the show is universal. A personal phone call can go a long way in sealing the deal. Consider sending a gift from home to thank leads with strong sales potential for their time. A handwritten thank you note, written in the native language of its recipient, coupled with a prestigious, executive pen is a great way to show gratitude.
Remember, with a little research, planning and training, you can make exhibiting in an international trade show a success.
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“What Is the Penalty for Chewing Gum in Singapore?” WiseGEEK. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 23 Jan. 2014.
Hoden, Rachel. “67 Ridiculous Laws From Around The World That Still Actually Exist.” Thought Catalog. N.p., 29 Oct. 2013. Web. Retrieved 23 Jan. 2014.