Commencing business meetings and relationships abroad requires great respect and understanding of international business etiquette. Different countries, continents and cultures all have their own unique conventions and customs that should be observed to maintain relationships with your new international colleagues.
Beginning with Germany, the greeting should be formal and done with a handshake. Maintaining good eye contact and a positive attitude, as well as being punctual, are all important aspects of a successful meeting. During discussion, participants should remain seated throughout, and if possible avoid finger pointing.
In Japan, chewing gum and passing documents with one hand is seen as rude, so these behaviours should both be avoided. The greeting is similar to Germany in that it should be formal and done with a handshake. Short, bow-like bows can be exchanged depending on the formality of the event. Negotiations should take place as a collective effort, focusing more on the team and how they can reach a deal together, rather than fighting in battle.
At a business meeting in England, it is expected that the attire worn is professional. When greeting someone, a handshake should be exchanged, although the tone should be relaxed. The use of humour is usually accepted if the atmosphere is appropriate, however this does not mean that you should vent any criticisms of their company or their process.
In the States, the tradition of exchanging business cards is very popular. Before entering the meeting or negotiation, it is courteous to exchange them with your colleagues. This is a good way to make sure everybody knows the name and the position of the people they are speaking to. If you are given someone’s business card, make sure to take a few moments to read it and look at it, as this is seen as a sign of respect.
Undertaking business overseas involves a lot of customs and cultural expectations. Understanding the appropriate etiquette is essential to maintaining successful relationships with international partners. By being knowledgeable and respectful of the customs in each country, you can ensure that you make a great first impression on a global scale.
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