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How courting business in India is like dating in the U.S.

My new year’s resolution is off to a slow start.

As mentioned in my last blog, I’ve resolved to tweet more in 2013. I’m blessed that I have a lot I could tweet but cross-cultural sensitivities make me cautious.

For example, I landed a new Maryland client for my firm earlier this month. The new client is in the delicious business of making high-end chocolates. My firm was retained to identify a strategic Indian partner for an exclusive supply agreement. I’d love to tweet about the new client but hesitant about how a prospective Indian client might take the news.

I’ve learned over time that attracting clients in the different countries require a very different approach.

My strategy when courting business in India is like courting a date in the U.S. It is a good practice to be modest, respectful and focused on the person being courted. So, promoting a new client to a prospective client might be like bragging on a first date about buying a new car or getting a new raise.

Making those first impressions are important. It doesn’t matter how long or prestigious your existing client list is, it generally doesn’t help land a new client in India — just as it’s not a good idea to rattle off names of past dates to someone as an inducement to go out.

But in the U.S. it enhances credibility to promote a companies’ client list. So I’m stuck on how to tweet about a new client, which could be good for business in the U.S. but a turnoff in India. This adds a whole new complexity to using social media to influence decision-makers around the globe.

Twitter seems to be a natural fit for communicating short messages to resonate among folks with a common cultural background. It is a great tool for disseminating information and raising one’s profile as a leader within a network or community.

But getting 140-character messages to have impact across diverse cultures requires extra thought. With social media playing a large role in the diffusion of information it is critical to understand how people in different cultures make decisions.

The more I learn about Twitter, the more I realize what a powerful business tool it can be. However, for it to be worthwhile for me professionally, I need to determine how to disseminate messages that influence both Indian and American business people.