I am from Peru and I have lived in and visited most of Latin America. This was my first time in Guatemala, and it really stood out amongst all other countries. Why? Because of its people – they are extremely welcoming and hospitable! After arriving, we were able to quickly build personal and working relationships. It was a valuable learning experience that I will never forget.
During our time here, our knowledge of how important social relationships are to doing business in Latin America was reinforced. Family and personal relationships are highly valued in Latin America, and, of course, there is a different approach to time. All of this carries over into the business environment.
When we first arrived to Guatemala City, we were not sure what awaited us. We had to put together the needs and wishes of three different groups: MINECO, IDB and the SMEs Intermediaries. We were able to build strong relationships with these groups and learn their communication styles. In Guatemala, as in the rest of Latin America, building those social relationships is necessary if you want to get things done, and… we made it happen!
During our time with MINECO representatives, we knew that building those relationships would be the turning point. We saw a big change in their behavior as we developed a stronger professional and personal relationship with them. In the first week we worked out of our apartment, but once we gained space in the MINECO office, we were able to talk to them regularly. As we got to know each other, communication became easier and more relaxed. The clients started joking with us, stopping by to say hi and to chit chat. We were finally able to speak the “same language.”
Throughout the following weeks of trainings and interactions with the entrepreneurs, we saw how thankful they were for all our hard work. They even asked for personal advice that they could apply to their careers and individual businesses, which was extremely rewarding.
As Prof. Roy Nelson taught us in RBE Latin America, when doing business in Latin countries, building social relationships is necessary. And it is true. Latin America will always be distinctly different from the rest of the world, and it will always have its difficulties. But its people and their focus on personal relationships is what makes the difference! It is what makes it so special!
All of our team agreed in something: We love the Latino culture and its passion for family, friends, and personal connection. I am happy to say that I made many amazing friends in Guatemala and I encourage everyone to go, connect with the people, and make it happen!