Can anybody deny the world has gotten much smaller over the years? In fact, these days, working globally has become the norm. But this can potentially bring on challenges when it comes to traveling to different countries with your personal brand in tow. After all, every culture is different, and what’s polite and appropriate in one country may be interpreted as rude in another. So, how do you stay true to your personal brand on the road while making sure you don’t damage relationships along the way?
The challenge of communicating your personal brand across multiple cultures has been top of mind for me this year. Since January, I’ve traveled extensively across the globe, speaking, training, consulting, coaching, and holding book signings in such diverse and interesting places as Prague, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, the Netherlands, the U.S. and, of course, here in Bangkok, too. (In case you’re wondering, my frequent flyer account is indeed doing very well – I just logged my 100,000th mile for 2008!)
What have I learned (or re-learned) about personal branding by being exposed to so many cultures in such a short time? While the foundation of my personal brand has remained the same – I don’t actually alter my brand significantly from place to place – I do make adjustments to ensure that my brand is not off-putting.
I really believe it pays to think about how your personal brand will work within each culture you visit. It isn’t that you change your personal brand depending upon the country you visit, but you may need to make some alterations in the way you present it. It’s important to do research ahead of time and learn the customs of the place you’ll be visiting. After all, you’re on someone else’s turf, and no personal brand will do well if it looks like you don’t care about being a good guest.
So when it comes to presenting your personal brand during international travel, keep in mind these tips:
- Your personal brand needs to be somewhat malleable. It should be adaptable enough to fit into different circumstances and locations while still remaining true to the foundation of who YOU™ really are.
- You can’t ignore the context of any given situation. As you prepare for a trip outside of your native country, try to find someone from that particular culture and ask questions. What is considered polite, what is considered rude, and what do people in that culture value most?
- If you can’t find someone to talk to who has lived in that location, do your research. Read a book (the series called Put Your Best Foot Forward is great) or find a trustworthy website that will help you learn pitfalls to avoid in a particular country.
Remember: No matter how much work you’ve done to define and develop your personal brand, if you arrive in a country unaware of important cultural differences, you run the risk of not fully communicating who YOU™ really are.