For those business professionals wanting to expand into the American market, I offer the following advice for making and keeping American business contacts:

Contact Americans Directly

Unlike in many cultures were formal introductions must be made, Americans need no middle person. If there is a person you would like to meet, you can:

  • Introduce yourself in person at a trade show or other event
  • Call the person on the phone. It is best to plan out ahead of time what you plan to say who you are the reason for your call.
  • Email the person, again with an explanation of who you are and the reason for your contact.
  • Social Media – you can tweet or Linkedin message a person you wish to contact.

One note about introductions – if you do have a mutual connection with the person you want to meet, a well-placed introduction could increase your importance in the eyes of your new American acquaintance. But this depends on how highly the American regards this mutual friend.

Skip Directly to the Intended Benefits

In American business, time equals money. If you have an idea of how your relationship with this person would be mutually beneficial, you will want to state these benefits at the start of your conversation. This is especially true if there are direct financial benefits you think are possible. For instance, if you are interested in a marketing partnership where you could market the American’s products in your home market and the American could do the same for you in the American market, then talk about the market potential and expected revenue generation in both countries. Nothing gets an American business person’s attention faster than talking about financial opportunities.

Make Progress towards an Agreement

Americans feel more comfortable with a business relationship that is progressing quickly. If momentum slows down, an American will often assume that the relationship is not going to happen because one or more of the sides is losing interest. If you feel that the Americans are losing interest for any reason, I would recommend asking openly if something is wrong. If there are reasons why the American is hesitant to finish formalizing a relationship, then look at each issue to see if it is a “deal breaker” or if it can be overcome. Never feel like you need to solve all of the issues and take on a larger share of burden to satisfy your American counterpart. You can always appeal to the American sense of “fairness” in working through issues.

The Americans are serious about creating a business relationship when there is a drafted legal agreement that is specific to your relationship (not just a template agreement). Legal agreements are taken very seriously in American business. Before you ever sign an American agreement, be sure to have an American business transactions lawyer from that specific state look through your agreement and explain the implications of the legal terms. The American legal courts will follow that agreement later if there is a dispute.

I hope this helps to guide you as you make American business contacts. If you need further assistance in entering the American market, please contact me. Also, I have written additional articles for those wanting to enter the American market:

The International Entrepreneur – Cultural Tips on the United States by Becky Park DeStigter

The International Entrepreneur: Variations in the American Business Culture

The International Entrepreneur: The American Obsession with Financial Reporting

The International Entrepreneur – How to Work with an American Employee

The International Entrepreneur: Think you know American values?