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International Business Travel: 3 Lessons Learned

By Josh Maxwell

Beyond the boardrooms and conference halls, international business travel offers a unique blend of experiences that are enriching both personally and professionally. I feel fortunate to have made so many visits to Asia and Mexico for work and to have learned lessons about the value of creating connections with people and places during these trips.

  1. Friends Around the World

While clients are an important part of my international travels, having friends at my various destinations (and, even better, friends who are clients) makes the journey even more valuable.

How great would it be after you’ve just taken a long, tiring flight, having left your family behind and knowing you have full workdays scheduled ahead, to grab a bite or a drink with a familiar face? Or how about enjoying the excitement of sharing something fun with a new friend?

It is through these personal conversations that I’ve learned the most about local cultures, politics, business environments, everyday life and hints on the best places to go in foreign countries. These friends and conversations have become so enjoyable and invaluable to me over the years. I feel extremely blessed to have built relationships with people in cities all over the world, and I always look forward to seeing them on my trips.

  1. Building Bridges with Colleagues

I am an attorney licensed in the U.S.; therefore, I cannot advise on local law or tax in foreign jurisdictions. However, by its very nature, my international tax law practice involves both the U.S. and other countries. To best serve Hone Maxwell’s clients, I must have relationships with fellow counselors and advisors around the world. This way, we can work together to create comprehensive planning and streamlined advice that ensures our clients are covered everywhere they live and/or do business.

These relationships also have great collateral benefits, as they can lead to collaboration on new clients. And, many times, these colleagues turn into friends! (See the importance of that above!)

  1. Embracing Personal Time

Because I frequently travel to parts of Asia and Mexico, I often get asked how to engage in successful business development while on international travel. I say that the key is you have to enjoy being there. I love to travel, and this comes through in my meetings. If you were all about business, then your focus would be on selling — and this can turn people off. However, the first few times I traveled abroad for work, I was so excited about being somewhere new I didn’t even discuss business at my meetings. This allowed me to make friends and have people who were happy to see me because I wasn’t just there to push my services.  Also, the work of building business in a foreign country can take a long time to pay off, sometimes even years. If you are focused on the success being tied to the bottom line, you will find yourself very discouraged.

Now, every time I’m in a foreign locale, I remind myself to take the time to really experience the place, taking in the sights, sounds and energy. We all need some down time. If you’re traveling for work, take advantage of having personal time in a new environment. Otherwise, you’re missing the greatest benefit of having an international business.

In my case, business and pleasure are intertwined, whether it’s exploring foreign lands with my family or having quiet moments of reflection on a solitary journey. The desire for these experiences is what keeps me motivated and excited about international business travel.

So, the next time you embark on an international business trip, remember that it’s not just about clients and meetings. It’s about the friends you make, the colleagues you collaborate with and the personal moments that make the journey truly special. Embrace these aspects, and you’ll find that international business travel is not just a professional endeavor — it’s an enriching life experience.

Disclaimer: Hone Maxwell LLP articles and blogs are not intended as legal advice. Additional facts, facts specific to your situation or future developments may affect subjects contained herein. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information herein.

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