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For the international road warrior, it can be tough to keep track of the correct ways to introduce yourself and conduct business.
We put together a quick guide for you for making sure you make a good first-impression on your international business contacts.
We broke it down by region. Here’s what you need to know:
- In Asia, make your handshake brief. Not everyone will bow, so only do it if your contact does first. You should also come prepared with plenty of business cards, as it is custom to exchange them (with both hands) to new professional acquaintances. You should also be prepared to dress conservatively. Dark black or navy suits and dresses will work.
- In India, a handshake is fine, but you may discover some people going for the namaste: holding their palms together with a slight bow. It’s appropriate to return the gesture in those situations. It’s also important to always address people by their formal title: mister, doctor, professor, etc. Finally, as with every professional situation, it’s best to make sure you show up to meetings on time, but Indians tend not to care as much if you’re 10 minutes late. That being said, don’t risk it.
- In the Middle East, keep in mind that religious clients will be taking time to pray five times per day. Be sensitive to that when planning meetings. If you are a man meeting with a woman, do not offer a handshake unless she does first. Some Islamic women are wary of touching other men. You should also avoid casual touching like shoulder pats. We’ve been told that meetings with business people in the Middle East can get off topic, so be prepared with a strict agenda.
- Get ready to shake hands a lot in Europe. It’s common to shake hands before and after meetings…with everyone. When addressing people, it’s best to play it safe and use last names, unless your contact calls you by your first name. Finally, if you’re planning a meeting over a meal, don’t make it breakfast. Most Europeans prefer to do business over lunch or dinner.
Do you have any good tips for doing business abroad? Let us know in the comments.