International Business Etiquette for Global Travelers
With business opportunities arising in even the most remote locations, traveling for business, be it for trade shows, meetings or events, is becoming increasingly popular. Companies are increasing their travel budgets and frequently, sales representatives are traveling across the globe for short meetings just to “seal the deal”.
Given the popularity of corporate travel, it is important for people to know the market in which they conduct business as well as know the etiquettes of conducting business in different areas that are relevant to their business.
Before traveling to a new region or country, learn about the culture and business dos and don’ts. Here are some things worth considering when traveling for business.
Attire – are you expected to come to the meeting dressed extremely formal, business casual or just casual? In some places, removing your jacket in a meeting can be considered quite rude. Find out if business is usually discussed in a formal setting like an office or in a casual setting such as over drinks or a meal.
Punctuality – are you expected to be right on time or slightly after the agreed time? How late is considered late?
Greeting – read up on appropriate greeting for men and women. Is it a firm handshake, a kiss on the cheek or a hug that is considered appropriate?
Business card exchange – in certain countries such as China and Japan, the way you handle business cards is extremely important. Business cards are presented with both hands and accompanied by a nod. They are then examined carefully before being put away nicely.
Gifting – are you expected to bring a gift for your host?
Titles – are you expected to refer to your business associates by their first name or do they prefer to be addressed by a title such as Ms. or Mr.
Conversation – are you expected to jump straight into business conversation or is it more of a social meeting where small talk leads the conversation? If you’re having a meeting over a meal, should you finish the meal before starting business discussions.
Food preference – check to see if there are certain items that they generally do not eat or drink. This is particularly important if you are inviting them out for a meal while on your visit, or if they are coming to visit you. This is also important to know if you are bringing them a consumable gift item.
Tip – it’s always good to know what ice-breaking topics might come in handy when you’re stuck for conversation starters. Try to be up to date on hot topics such as their national sport. Discussing politics and religion is usually a taboo at business meetings so it is best to avoid these topics to
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