GUEST BLOG: International relationships in business

UoY Careers Balloon illy Guest blog written by Simon Ball, CEO of Tuscany Now

Whether you are planning a move abroad after university, or a placement year, it is crucial that you research your chosen country’s culture. Even in business, there are a multitude of different factors to consider.

Simon Ball CEO of Tuscany Now has 25 years’ experience of working with different cultures and languages. Tuscany Now has offices in Barcelona and London, villas in Italy and customers from all around the world. International relations are key to making Simon’s business work, so he’s offered this advice.

Business culture abroad

Every culture has its own customs which will be reflected in its business practices. It’s important to keep these in mind when building business relationships abroad, whether it is for employment or networking. You need to be willing to embrace the cultural differences as this improves communication and shows that you really want to make the effort.

For example, in Italy sending your CV via email is less effective than using the phone or passing it across in person. This is because internet use is 20% lower than the UK and Italians put trust at the heart of their business relationships. Recommendations are also considered important to relationship building in Italy so holding your mutual business friends close is important.


Etiquette is another important factor to consider, especially for networking purposes. Learning a country’s etiquette makes a polite first impression. Some things we consider polite in the UK may be considered rude abroad. Take Bulgaria for example, when eating dinner they share the food around the table and nibble over the course of a few hours, rather than ordering full main courses and eating straight away.

You will probably make some mistakes when it comes to etiquette but it’s all a learning curve.  If you have done your research and shown that you are trying, most people will allow a few mistakes here and there.

Advantages of working abroad

While it can seem like quite a lot of work learning about another culture, there are many benefits to working in a different country that you won’t find working in the UK. Working abroad shows that you’re adaptable to different environments, cultural differences and that you can manage change effectively. Change can happen regularly within certain industries, so this is something that is very valuable to employers. It is also an effective way to show that you can successfully network with different people.

Working in a foreign country is also a perfect opportunity to brush up on your language skills. Pairing a language skill with a specialism can make you invaluable in certain industries and can really set you apart from the crowd.

Before jetting off to start your new career or placement, remember to check out the University of York’s careers department for advice on working abroad.