6 Fundamental International Business Skills

Today’s international business skills vary in every business environment and necessitate a distinct set of abilities. Thus, global professionals confront a “VUCA” business environment more than ever, one that’s volatile, uncertain, complex, and unclear. The “soft skills” required to master this new, globalized corporate environment aren’t the same as those needed for analysis or accounting. Instead, while a solid technological understanding is still important, it’s the “soft skills” that may make all the difference between failure and actual achievement in international business.

A study conducted by Hult International Business School asked 100 of the world’s top CEOs what key competencies future business graduates should have in the 21st century. They agreed that soft skills like influencing, collaborating, and adapting intelligently were “essential” for employability and success in international business.

From the research, the top 7 abilities required for global success were discovered. These are the talents you’ll need to thrive when starting your own business:

  • Cross-cultural communication skills
  • Excellent networking abilities
  • Collaboration
  • Interpersonal influence
  • Adaptive thinking
  • Emotional intelligence

Communication Skills 

Working in a diverse workplace with people from different nationalities or backgrounds to yours is part of every role or function in international trade. Therefore, having the ability to communicate across cultures is a valuable skill regardless of whether you’re dealing with a coworker, a client, or a customer.

Good communication is beneficial to your company’s success. Therefore, it necessitates a high degree of respect, sensitivity, and diplomacy. It also demands an open attitude and, in many cases, some study. When it comes to communication, try to learn about cultural differences and fully understand them. For example, understanding how people from different cultures react to a workplace conflict or simply looking someone in the eye to avoid misunderstandings may assist you in avoiding disputes and improving communication.

Active listening is vital in any business setting, but when working with coworkers or clients from other countries, it is even more important because of the language barrier.

Networking Abilities

Networking, in particular international networking, may help you discover new business possibilities in another country. In fact, some studies claim that up to 80% of employment is obtained through networking. Consequently, developing a robust network of connections outside of your own country is critical if you want to work in international trade.  

Excellent interpersonal networking ability is still one of the most important skills for international business success. And it’s easier than ever to do so online, thanks to sites like LinkedIn. Attending networking events and learning how to perfect your “elevator pitch” are two good methods to meet like-minded people and build relationships. Of course, as with cross-cultural communication, networking abilities also require diplomacy, tact, and a listening ear. So, bear in mind that the point is to create a connection rather than just tout your talents.

One of the most valuable networking encounters for ambitious worldwide company executives is going to business school. This is because in an MBA program, you’ll meet people from all over the world with a wide range of talents and knowledge. These people will make excellent potential collaborators or coworkers.


It’s not enough to just create a network to succeed in international trade; you must also be able to work with others. In the corporate world,  working towards a common goal is essential. It necessitates humility, allowing others to take the lead and share credit for success. It also demands confidence in one’s cause, providing constructive criticism, and fighting for it respectfully.

Collaborating with team members from diverse countries is particularly advantageous in today’s global economy. Firstly, it’s a chance to put your cross-cultural communication abilities in use. Secondly, it will expose you to new views and techniques for addressing business issues. The most successful executives are often the greatest collaborators because they know that collaborative brain power can help companies succeed.

Interpersonal Influence

Influence is a critical element of company success, whether you’re attempting to persuade an investor to provide money for your new business, persuade an employee to adopt a new way of working, or persuade a client to purchase your product. The greatest corporate executives gain influence by establishing positive professional connections and earning respect. 

As a result of your influence, you don’t need to utilize a hard sell because people will already know how valuable you are. It’s the ability to be forceful without being pushy. In international business, it’s an important skill to pitch for new business, negotiate deals, and get everyone on board. That’s why it’s an essential component of Hult’s leadership training.

Adaptive Thinking

You must be confident enough to respond and adapt swiftly in today’s VUCA business environment when you must think “out of the box” to resolve issues. Adaptive thinkers flourish in an ever-changing world, making themselves ideal candidates for global success. But how can you improve your adaptive thinking abilities?

Curiosity, humility, and impulse control are all the qualities that foster adaptive thinking. Adaptive thinking entails making thoughtful action rather than giving in to impulse when a fast response is required in a critical business scenario. It also entails acknowledging the fact that old solutions no longer fit the purpose.

Adaptive thinking was formerly the purview of military bosses, who were expected to take decisive action in times of danger and uncertainty. Global professionals now require adaptable thinking as a tactical competence.

Emotional Intelligence

You’re more likely to hear people referring to “EQ” in today’s HR language rather than “IQ.” When it comes to how to conduct international trade, strong emotional intelligence is recognized as a key capacity. That’s because it affects almost every business encounter.

People with excellent emotional intelligence are self-aware and in control of their emotions, which means they are better able to handle critical or stressful business situations while also adjusting readily to a change. They’re also capable of cooperating effectively, as shown by good communication and collaboration skills combined with a strong sense of compassion.