<p>Businesspeople need to understand the local culture to get started. We might assume that contacts and connections are less important to international business. But people engaged in global trade quickly learn the limits to this assumption. The case which took place in Singapore illustrates how essential contacts and introductions are to success, in the markets of relationship-oriented cultures, for instance, the east Asian cultures, where people do not usually do business with strangers.</p>

For the same reason, Lars will not get in touch with his Japanese would-be partners in the same way as he does with the Americans. He has done his cross-cultural homework, so he is aware that cold calls rarely work in cultures like Japan. Since DanMark Widgets is not yet well known in Japan, Larsen's prospects there will probably not agree to a meeting based on a direct approach.

Lars will get far better results by making initial contact with his distributor candidates in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. How does he go about doing that?

Often the best way to contact business partners in relationship-oriented cultures is to go to an international trade show. That is where buyers look for suppliers, exporters seek importers and investors search for joint-venture partners. There is another proven way for Lars to make indirect contact with his distributors in Japan: he can arrange to be introduced by a trusted intermediary.

Lars can also get a chance to meet potential partners if he joins an official trade mission. Today governments and trade associations are promoting their country's exports by organizing guided visits to new markets. The organizer of the trade mission sets up appointments with interested parties and provides formal introductions to them. These official introductions help break the ice, smoothing the way to a business relationship.