More and more, my business is growing internationally. I love learning about different cultures, hearing clients speak in different accents, and applying the personal brand and reputation management protocol to global business climates. I’m proud that my clients come from countries including Australia, Canada, Spain, The Netherlands and The United Arab Emirates. I’ve been quoted and featured in publications from the Ukraine to Japan and many places in between!
While I come from an international family, my goal was not to have such a global footprint in only five years as my own business. This happened because I built a platform and shared a message that had global appeal, and I did so with authenticity, expertise and consistency. The bottom line is that I created and managed a personal brand that made me relatable and compelling to foreign clients.
As the world gets smaller, and as we are just as likely to collaborate with a business partner in Israel as we are Idaho, maybe it’s time to consider how your reputation plays out abroad.
Consider the global appeal of your personal brand
Most professionals focus on their immediate target market, which might include a specific industry, geographic region, human demographic or area of expertise. But what about your target audience abroad? Should and could they find you compelling and relevant, too?
Most of my international clients initially found me online. Because I routinely ask, “Where did you hear about me?” to new and prospective clients, I’ve learned that my social networking activity, web presence and media work has reached beyond the borders of my own country. While I’ve been featured and interviewed internationally, people in far away countries also read our U.S. publications!
Consider the global marketplace as you build your personal brand:
- Your customers and clients may be across the city today and across the globe tomorrow. I’ve heard from businesses and consultants whose businesses went international, when one client took them to another country, it enabled them to justify expanding their market place.
- The international client shares many of the same issues, concerns and goals as the U.S. client. However, the way your strategies, vision and message translate in other cultures can vary. When you build your personal brand in another culture, you should get up to speed on the nuances, sensitivities and background of the area in which you are working. While many cultures are attracted to the “American way” (innovative, driven, financially-rewarding), others find it offensive and pushy. You’ll want to know this in advance to adjust your strategy and messaging in particular.
- Make technology your friend. I would be on an airplane three weeks out of every month if I didn’t use Skype. I am able to see and hear my clients (video) just as easily as if they were across town from me. For many of us, building our personal brand means communicating in person. Skype and other technologies enable that to happen seamlessly.
- Consider your online reputation. Your international client will likely go to Google, LinkedIn and other social networks to learn about you. Similar to your U.S. based clients, the international client is looking for consistency and intention in your online persona. They seek to learn who you are, what you offer and why they should want to work with you. If you communicate passion and enthusiasm, they will get that. If it’s too much zeal and excitement, you might turn off a client from a more conservative, traditional culture. That should be okay if you truly are a high energy, high passion individual. You’d never work well together anyway.
- Approach the international community with sensitivity. While you are an expert in your field and are called upon to share that expertise with global colleagues, remain sensitive to what you don’t know. When working with international clients, I am always confident in my area of specialty but I check their tolerance and comfort with my recommendations. They will know best what works in their business climate and environment.
My veteran clients, friends and contacts have taught me a lot about global climates, risks and rewards. Growing up as the daughter of European parents, I am sensitive and attracted to different cultures, languages, norms and beliefs. And as an American, I embrace the business environment in which I work and live. As my business grows more diverse and international, the world feels smaller and more intimate. This is an amazing benefit to my work and vision for personal branding!