My parents sent me to Spain as a teenager to be an exchange student. Boy am I glad they did. The experience opened my eyes to the world, and enabled me to learn a second language. By the time I finished high school, I was fluent in Spanish.
Being bilingual not only makes traveling a breeze and exponentially increases who you can be friends with, it provides many benefits in the business world. Here are a few that I have seen first hand in my career.
Increased Size of Target Market
Want more customers? When you learn another language, the size of your target market automatically increases for which you can sell your product or service. There are an estimated 500 million Spanish speakers worldwide, making it the second most spoken language in the world. Of that 500 million, 50 million reside in the USA. So, whether your company is looking to grow internationally or expand into new domestic markets, knowing a second language increases who you can sell to.
More Marketable to Employers
In today’s competitive job market being bilingual is a tremendous value add to employers that separates you from the other pile of resumes. You must build your personal brand that demonstrates your value to employers. The more diverse your skill set is the more valuable and hirable you become to potential employers. Bilingual employees are in high demand in almost every business sector: health care, law, business, education, construction, criminal justice. (to name a few) Globalization is in full swing and worldwide markets are becoming more interdependent. Thus, the need for bilingual employees continues to rise.
Studies from Rosetta Stone have shown that bilingual employees earn on average 10% more in their salary than those that are monolingual. I have found this to be true, as I have received bilingual pay differential with almost every company I have worked for.
Win Instant Rapport With Clients
Learning a foreign language is no easy task. For this reason, people instantly love you when they realize you have taken the time and effort to learn their native language as your second language. I have been the beneficiary of this many times in my career. On a cold call several years back, I one call closed a customer over the phone because of my Spanish speaking ability. I reached the company CFO, and the call was going nowhere fast. I detected a Spanish accent and out of no where switched the conversation to Spanish. It was the perfect 180 degree turnaround that I needed. By then end of the conversation, I convinced her to switch their company mobile voice and data services, and enter into a 2 year business agreement with my company! This sales cycle usually takes at least two meetings, a formal proposal, and weeks if not months of negotiation.
Being multilingual is of course even better. For this reason, I am in the process of learning Portuguese. Brazil is a huge emerging market! Can you speak more than one language? How has it benefited you in your career?
About the Author: John White is the Social Media Marketing Director at Career Toolbox USA and Social Business Strategies, a proud dad, MBA candidate, sales and marketing expert, and influential blogger.
Follow John @juanblanco76 & @CareerToolboxUS &
CareerToolbox International, LLC
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