So, you have set your heart on an expansion into Thailand. You have picked out a great office location, right in the heart of Bangkok. You have got all of the logistical support and funding that you need, but you are still missing something vital – connections. Without the right relationships, your new enterprise is on hold.
It is easy to underestimate the significance of networking, as many entrepreneurs assume that the strength of their idea is enough to turn heads. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, because some countries have a tight-knit culture. Thailand, for example, is similar to many Asian regions. The people are welcoming, but they prioritise relationships with family and friends.
It means that foreign owners and managers have to make a special effort to network. Keep reading to find out why virtual offices in Bangkok are the answer.
The Freedom of Virtual
If you have recently moved to Thailand and are finding it hard to make connections, it could be worth signing up to a virtual office. These flexible workspaces put entrepreneurs right at the heart of the action, in an environment filled with other executives and managers.
All it takes is a chance encounter over coffee or a friendly request for advice to forge a new relationship. Virtual workspaces take away the social awkwardness of starting conversations because they are designed for collaboration. If people were dead set against making friends, they’d probably choose a more private setup.
Recognising Cultural Differences
One common mistake that Westerners make is to judge responses based on their own culture. In fact, Western executives tend to be significantly louder and more direct than professionals in the East. So, a measured, quiet reaction to the conversation does not always mean that a person is not interested. Don’t equate modesty and thoughtfulness with a lack of ambition.
You should remember that ‘face’ is hugely important in Asia. It means that maintaining a dignified demeanour is everything. Avoid sarcasm and jokes during business meetings, because they might be taken as an insult. When negotiating, don’t be afraid to start much higher than your desired price. It is a standard practice in Thailand and the gradual climb down to an agreement (with lots of bargaining) is mostly performance, but still a critical process.
Honouring the Business Card
Whatever else you do, treat business cards very carefully. They are not anywhere near as throwaway in Thailand as they are in Europe and the US. Thai executives consider their business cards to be an extension of themselves. They hand them over with great reverence and get very insulted if they see a person fold, crumple, or write on it.
In fact, even placing it straight in the pocket is a cultural faux pas. Accept it on your palm, face up. You can then put it delicately to one side. Slip it into your pocket only once a meeting or introduction is over. If you are offering your business card to somebody else, hold the top corners and place it on their palm to show respect.
The Importance of Cultural Assimilation
Relocating a business or expanding into a new market is a huge process. It involves many complex growth strategies, and it is no surprise that investors often forget to consider cultural customs. However, they are an integral component of running a business anywhere.
They have the power to make or break a company, so take some time to get familiar with your new home. Even something as easy as spending time in the retail districts, chatting with locals, and hanging out in the bars can give you a feel for what a country is like and appreciates from its investors.