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St. Patrick’s Day may officially memorialize Ireland’s foremost saint, but it’s expanded to celebrate Irish culture in general, all over the Western world. In our hometown of Boston, the holiday is especially popular. This year, we thought it would be fun to look at the similarities and differences of doing business in Ireland and the United States.

To aid us in our quest, I reached out to our friends in the Boston office of Enterprise Ireland and spoke with Amy Robinson, Trade Development Executive for Life Sciences & Digital Health. Enterprise Ireland is the government organization responsible for the development and growth of Irish enterprises in world markets. They partner with Irish brands to help them start, grow, innovate, and win export sales in global markets.

DS: When Irish firms enter the U.S. market, are there any cultural differences they should keep in mind when it comes to how they interact with US customers and prospects?

AR: The U.S. doesn’t necessarily work the 9-5 schedule. Sometimes there are earlier starts and sometimes there are evening calls. Plus, Irish professionals perceive a bit more formality when working with Americans. We also encourage Irish firms to listen more during their pitches to Americans and take into account their clients’ needs.

DS: What about in the other direction? What should U.S. firms know about doing business in Ireland?

AR: Everyone knows everyone else, or least that’s the perception. However, networking is very important in Ireland and can be really beneficial for anyone who understands that. Americans should never underestimate the power of a good introduction. Networking goes a very long way. In addition, the Irish really value transparency and being direct!

Networking is very important in Ireland…Americans should never underestimate the power of a good introduction.

DS:  What surprises Irish firms most about how buyers make decisions in the U.S.?

AR: In the life sciences area, for example, U.S. firms have to focus much more on compliance and regulatory requirements which can significantly draw out the sales cycle from what Irish firms are used to.

DS: Are there any surprises in store for U.S. companies going to Ireland?

AR: Many Americans are surprised by how highly innovative we are. Ireland has a very strong startup ecosystem that the Irish government actively supports along with direct investment from foreign entities. In fact, Enterprise Ireland is the third largest VC market in the world in terms of the number of deals.

Both U.S. and Irish cultures tend to have big personalities!

DS: What are the most important similarities both cultures have?

AR: Both U.S. and Irish cultures tend to have big personalities! They are very friendly and welcoming. In the life sciences, in particular, both cultures are very results-driven and hard-working.  Networking is a job. People are not just here to sell you something but rather to create a meaningful strategic relationship which will benefit both parties into the future.

Do you have any stories that align with these tips? We’d love to hear them. In the meantime, raise a pint on Sunday to St. Patrick, Irish culture, and all we have in common.

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