You already know how to take care of business on the phone. I just want to bring to your attention a few culturally appropriate pointers to enhance your conversations when you are speaking with that African partner or prospective client.
Respect is very important in most African cultures. It is better to error on the side of over honoring than inadvertently demeaning them because you did not use the term they are accustomed to hearing before their name. “How are you doing, man!” “What’s up, bro!” may be a appropriate and a laid back way of being cool when greeting in the USA or Europe, but it is out-of-place with Africans.
Sure they most likely will give you a short, standard answer like “fine”, “good”, or “it is raining.” Your question has shown that you know to jump right into business not only seems abrupt but it is often interpreted as rude in many African cultures.
Show them that you know they are well-connected or have had some accomplishments in their life. This demonstrates that you understand that someone else values them, and you do too. Relationships, weather business or community oriented, are very important to Africans. Part of their self-worth related to how they fit into communities. Identifying those connections validates them.
“Time is valuable,” has a different meaning in much of Africa. We in the West want to complete business tasks and conversations in the least amount of time possible. In many African settings, the more time you spend with someone, the more you value them.
Make sure that what you are offering is something that answers a problem or contributes to a situation you learned about them during the conversation. This will show that you are listening well and that you are wanting to help them. You are on their side. This is somewhat equal to the African custom of taking a gift when you go to visit someone.
You are establishing a relationship. One of the worst mistakes you can make is to end a conversation on a sour note. Always end with something upbeat or encouraging.
Trust is built by this follow through. So, make sure to promise only what you can deliver.
None of the items on this checklist are overly profound, but we all need reminders once in a while. I wish you profitable and relationship building conversations today. And, by the way, have fun with your family this evening.