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BILINGUAL BUSINESS – The Beginners’ Guide

The world is becoming smaller by the day and international communication is getting easier by the minute.To be a successful businessperson in this modern age, more than one language puts you at a huge advantage. Whether you are doing business right here in New York City, or planning on moving your company global, understanding a culture’s language, customs and business strategies will put you on the cutting edge.

Here are a few tips on how to take your business to the next level… or next continent.

Bilingual Business

1. Establish the language that would be most beneficial.

While English is the primary language of business, studies show that Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Mandarin are incredibly powerful tools in making business deals. Determining which language is most valuable will depend on a variety of factors. For instance, if you work in the medical or educational industries, especially in the United States, Spanish should be your main focus, with 35 million Spanish speakers in the US alone.

2. Once you’ve established the language that will be most beneficial, start the hiring process.

The hiring process should be tailored to your company’s specific needs. Be CLEAR about what you are looking for in an employee, and make fluency in the language a requirement. Aside from the standard hiring mediums, check out bilingual and foreign language newspapers in your area to place an ad. This way, you can streamline your search for the perfect employee. Perhaps consider making candidates write their cover letters in the desired foreign language.

3. Understand the culture and customs around the language.

It’s not enough to understand the language – and mannerisms are just the tip of the iceberg. In business, culture guides decision-making, behavior, thinking patterns and values. From fostering long-term relationships, to marketing implications, to negotiations, to gift exchanges – customs guide everything.

4. Invest in bilingual business cards.

Do not mistake this step as insignificant. There is a reason why these small pieces of paper refuse to die. It is a universal custom that has been around for ages, serving as your first and last impression on your potential client. It is absolutely crucial to hire a professional when it comes to creating translated business cards. International business cards, specifically in asian cultures, have varying standards when it comes to typography, card size, and overall appearance.

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