International business etiquette: Tips for entry-level employees

Jun 29, 2015 | Article

Something as simple as a proper greeting can make or break an important meeting, so use these tips to make a positive impression when you're jet-setting for work.

Whether you're looking for a job outside your native country or heading out on your first international business trip, it's important that you prepare for your time abroad. Press your shirts, pack an electricity adapter and brush up on the international business customs.

If you're new to the world of international business, you'll quickly discover that certain actions, words and mannerisms are perceived differently around the globe. Something as simple as a proper greeting can make or break an important meeting, so use these tips to make a positive impression when you're jet-setting for work.

Look into business customs
Thanks to the Internet, you can easily look up business etiquette in the country you're traveling to. Here are a few big ones to make note of:

  • Canada: Take extra care to arrive on time to meetings. This country regards punctuality as extremely important.
  • France: Business meetings are more formal than you may be used to. Maintain a professional air, wait to be told where to sit and avoid discussing personal matters.
  • India: Saying "no" outright during a meeting is considered rude. Instead, use phrases like "maybe," "possibly" or "we'll consider it."
  • Japan: Businesspeople have specific rituals for exchanging business cards. Don't slide your card across the table to someone. Instead, present it with two hands when you first meet.
  • Mexico: Show up on time for your meeting, but don't be taken aback if your business associates are late. If you have an agenda planned, keep in mind that it may not be followed, as Mexicans aren't sticklers when it comes to structured meetings.
Every country has its own customs when it comes to conducting business.

Research the culture too
If you're going to be spending any period of time in a foreign nation, you should dig into social customs as well. You may be invited to dinner or a social gathering with your business partners, and the last thing you want is to embarrass them by committing a social faux pas. Read up on proper greetings, dining etiquette and other unspoken social rules.

Follow your partner's lead
Chances are that your employer didn't send you off to another country alone. When in doubt, it's best to follow the lead of a more experienced colleague. He or she will likely know the ropes of the business world, so ask questions and take advantage of your partner's expertise.


This content brought to you by the Marketing Team at Beacon Hill Staffing Group.

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