This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie is an iconic song that gives Americans a feeling of happiness and pride every time they hear it. It says that no matter where you’re from, “this land was made for you and me.” This reminds me of how professionals should think about their company’s brand and service delivery. No matter where your company’s offices are, your brand experience should be consistent, and your customers, no matter where they are in the world, should feel that your products or services are made for them.

Our brand is defined by our people, integrity, creativity and operational excellence. We work in a unique industry and our creativity and consistency are important to the face-to-face marketing needs of our customers. How does this look on a global scale? No matter where you are, our products and/or services are the same and our clients get one point of contact. With that in mind, our international team announced this past week at International Confex, that Melville Exhibition and Event Services and Melville Data Services will now be known as GESMelville Middle East will also become GES later this spring.

As our clients will attest, working with their GES team is often the easiest part of an international project. Working with internal teams that span the globe can be tougher. After splitting my time between a few different continents throughout most of my career, I have some experience on how to make this easier. Here are three tips to get you through the time differences and cultural boundaries:

  1. Provide Cross-Cultural Training- Give international assignments that provide basic knowledge of the culture your team will be working with.  From business literature to social anthropologists’, there are many options. Take a look at “favorite” books on Amazon within the international business and cross-cultural communication skills genres.
  2. Beware of PowerPoint Boredom- You may come across to them as stuffy or unapproachable if your delivery revolves around PowerPoints. Think twice next time you prepare one that contains more than 10 slides. Actually meeting face to face or grabbing a cup of coffee, tends to work better in international settings. Always make sure to allow plenty of time for informal get togethers around formal meetings. Relationships are key in the global business environment.
  3. Facilitate Group Brainstorming- Plan enough time within meeting agendas for idea sharing, questions and answers and feedback. There’s usually a great piece of information that comes from these types of conversations. This could possibly trigger that creative idea that changes the look and feel of an upcoming project.

Being keenly aware of cultural differences often makes the difference between a successful business interaction and an unsuccessful one. Doing business in “foreign” environments is challenging, but is now part of GES’ DNA. Last year we produced projects in 47 countries, including places as varied as Azerbaijan, New Zealand, Iceland, Slovakia, Turkey and Kazakhstan. Chances are, if there is an exhibition venue, we’ve successfully produced projects there or are scheduled to soon.  And now we are doing it all under the global brand of GES!

Here's a video from our experience at International Confex:


How do you work more efficiently with international teams? Share your tips below!