Involve professionals early in the project development phase to ensure adequate level of competence. Use employees familiar with practical experience from the area intended or consult external expertise.
Language is the most important tool in international cooperation. Document language skills and let it be a criterion when employing new staff. Using staff with a multicultural background and/or skills in specialist language can facilitate international cooperation in municipal departments.
Budget for translation and interpretation
Include a budget for translation and interpretation when you are working in transnational projects. Products developed in a project (i.e. reports, leaflets, newsletters etc.) will be more used and disseminated if the text is clear and relevant. The projects target group decides if it is necessary to translate results to different languages for internal use.
Check local legislation and structure
Services provided at local level in one country could be a task for the regional level or a NGO in another European country. Check this early in the project development phase to make sure that you are talking to the right authority. Building a good and reliable partnership is the best tool for solving these kinds of problems.
Use/define your vision
Use the vision as a guideline for the international work, it will provide the needed legitimacy for the activities and it will secure that international work will always support the direction chosen in the organisation.
Secure similar technical level between partners
When communicating on a distance in online meetings or online seminars it is important that all partner´s equipment is able to meet the requirements of the jointly chosen IT software system. This also includes having a reliable and fast Internet connection. The communication chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
Use and expand networks
Map your existing contacts to see who you already know and collect data on all projects, estimate the usefulness and be strategically aware. Connect with your useful contacts on suitable platforms to stay in touch between collaboration. Always look for new networks through your regional EU-office, by participating in matchmaking activities.
Join an international project
Learning by doing is always the best way to build up knowledge. Start out as a partner in two or three projects before you take on the responsibility as a lead partner in a project. Get familiar with the administrative procedures of handling EU projects and experience how cultural differences can affect the managing of the project. The first project you participate in will clarify if internal structures in your organisation will be challenged.
Search for project partners
To search for project partners use your existing network and contacts from other projects. Visit the contact seminars made by the different EU programme offices. The regional EU offices can be used to post your search online or through mailing lists. And do not hesitate to call contact persons, personal contacts are always the most rewarding.
Clear connections between strategic and operational levels
To proceed from the strategic level to the operational level can be challenging. Once an international plan of action is established, make sure there is commitment on the operational levels too. Reach your objectives and make international collaboration easier to understand by making the international work part of the municipality´s routines.
Remember project dissemination
Dissemination and marketing should be an important part of your project work. Be sure to include dissemination as a part of your communication plan and make your results visible so they are available to other actors.
Let others know about your international work
International cooperation carried out by the municipalities is not always well known to local citizens, politicians and municipal employees. Therefore, it is crucial to constantly communicate the international activities and disseminate the results. Establish a communication plan for international cooperation: clarifying who is responsible for the communications, identifying the target groups and choosing the main communication tools.