May 26, 2011

Global Business Etiquette: What You Shouldn’t Be Without

One of the tricky parts in operating a business in another country is that the culture is different. Your home country may have some standards which are different than in the country you are interested in exporting your business to. If you're not careful in researching about a certain country's customs and traditions, you might be shunning local investors and customers instead of reeling them in. Good form..Proper manners...General decorum, whatever you want to call it isn't as important as actually practicing and taking it to heart.

I have compiled a few business etiquette tips for doing business with three of the Top Ten Exporting Countries:

In Germany, the meetings always start on time so you have to try to arrive at meetings exactly on time. The acceptable greeting is a brief handshake at the beginning and at the end of the meeting. It is also customary to call your German contemporaries by their last name. You should also use Herr for men and Frau for woman before their last names. Acceptable gifts at business meetings would be office equipment, pens with your company logo and non-German liquor.

In China, a short and light handshake is customary before a business meeting would start. You should also be prepared to beat around the bush a bit with "small talk" and only then should you start with the meeting proper. Also, it is important to note that you have to address the Chinese with their title such as "Professor" or "Doctor". If they don't have any title, "Mister" or "Miss" would do but you have to take note that their surname immediately follows their title. You should also remember that business cards should be given before the meeting starts and not after.

In Japan, it is customary to bow to greet a guest and to show honor. However, there are some Japanese businessmen who offer a handshake instead especially if they deal with Westerners. It is also the norm to have joint recreation to break the ice. Think golf or casual dinner.You should also phrase your questions positively. For example, you should ask "Do you think so?" instead of "Don't you think so?". You would be spared from any misunderstanding. It is also generally acknowledged that looking directly into another's eyes could help you win trust and confidence. Not in this country though as it may cause discomfort and embarrassment.

You know how people say that first impressions last? Well, that's not always the case. However, the failure or success of your business and you as a person is dependent on your capability to adapt to different cultures and their acceptable business practices.

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