The visiting exporters from India should understand the etiquette for doing business in foreign markets. It is quite natural what is considered polite in India may be regarded as rude elsewhere. Such embarrassing situations in business can be avoided if the visiting exporter from India is aware of the etiquette for doing business in the foreign market. The prospective buyers will highly impressed if the exporter reflected in his behavior the understanding of the culture foreign buyer’s country.
It needs to be understood that the personal image of the exporter created through his /her conduct has a direct bearing on the image of his/her business firm. The golden rule of business etiquette is to be open-minded, non-judgmental and flexible. While travelling abroad, exporters should keep the following points on mind:
1. They should be more formal than they are in India.
2. They should show full respect of their host when making introduction about themselves or their team member.
3. They should never call individually by their first name unless invited to do so.
4. They should always use correct pronunciation.
5. It is discourteous to say ‘No’ to the invitation of the foreign buyer of lunch or dinner.
6. It is desirable to carry a bouquet of followers particularly if the host is a German buyer.
7. Exporters should carry with them a few gifts while going abroad for business meeting. It is a good practice to give gifts in return to the host.
8. Business cards should be viewed as a statement about the status of a person. As such it should be given due respect. It is considered highly undesirable to bend, write on or put away the business cards while in the business firm of the person who presented card.
9. The exporter should bear in mind that there are different type of handshakes and degree of bowing.
10. If you don’t speak French, apologize for your lack of knowledge. The French are quite proud of their language and believe that everyone should be able to speak it.
11. Germans are also sticklers for titles. Try to introduce people using their full fill, correct title, no matter how long it is. Also, German shake hand at both the beginning and the end of business meetings.
12. Most Japanese business people know what will be discussed at a meeting, how everyone feels about it, and how it will affect their business before they even get there. The purpose of a meeting is to reach consensus. A flexible agenda is necessary so that discussion flow more freely. Foreigners should not try to adhere religiously to a set agenda.
13. While doing business with Koreans, American needs to be sensitive to Korea’s historical relationship with Japan, which made a virtual colony of the Korean, Peninsula. Koreans do not like foreigners to assume that their culture is the same as Japans’. However, Koreans do have great respect for Japanese business acumen, and like the Japanese they still observe Confucian ethics based on respect for authority and the primacy of the group over the individual.
14. Although individual Latin American countries may vary in terms of business protocol, there are some commonalities. In Latin America, it’s de rigueur to make initial face-to-face contact through an outside liaison who knows the customer’s business firm well. The liaison, or enchufe, introduces the salespeople or business representatives to key players.
An exporter can contact embassies or High Commissions for any country-specific information required on business etiquette.
Business Women and Conduct of Business
Businesswomen all over the world may face problem and prejudices in a business scenario still dominated by men, particularly in access to finance. However, business is business and if a good business plan is developed for discussion with prospective partner in target countries, presentation by a woman should in principle raise no problem. One should nevertheless know that women often have to perform batter in order to obtain the same result as businessman.
Regardless of the country in which a woman may choose to conduct business, certain rules of thumb apply:
(a) Dress conservatively.
(b) Do not be coy or flirtatious.
(c) Be careful and cautious when dining alone.
(d) Do not give business gifts unless they can be used by the recipient’s family.
(e) Offer but do not insist on the other side joining during business lunch or dinners.