Venturing overseas for business purposes can be a fantastic opportunity, providing the chance to explore new markets and meet international contacts, but it also requires a lot of planning. In addition to passports, depending on the destination, those travelling may need to apply for visas and allow adequate time for travel vaccinations.
If you’re travelling as part of a team, you can relax knowing that the logistics of flights, accommodation and travel have all been taken care of for you. However, in order to prepare for meetings, anyone flying overseas for business purposes will have some research and planning to do…
Research Culture and Etiquette
When going abroad for business, it’s imperative to properly research the culture and customs of the country, as the way that you act will directly reflect upon the business you represent. Every culture approaches business dealings differently, so make it’s important to know what’s appropriate. For example: Are discussions led by the eldest member of the group, as in Japan? Is humour during meetings a big no-no, like in Germany? Should you present your hosts with a gift? How long do business lunches last and is it appropriate to discuss business matters while eating? Not knowing the answers to these questions could cause offence.
Research working days and hours, too. While work days in Spain are typically much shorter, the working week often starts on a Saturday in the Middle East. Also, remember to find out about greetings. For example, when giving a gift in China, it is custom to do so with both hands, while the okay hand gesture is actually an insult in the Philippines.
Learn the Language
While no one will expect you to be fluent, it’s important to make a genuine attempt to learn phrases and converse in your host’s language. Knowing basic terms and greetings will help you to impress and will be appreciated. It’s also a good idea to master a simple phrase that allows you to apologise for not speaking the language. Also, remember that most your communication is non-verbal, so it is crucial to research appropriate body language.
If you’re short for time, don’t worry, there are loads of easy ways to learn a language. Try a smartphone language app that you can use during your work train commute, or purchase audio software that you can play in the car.
Plan Your Itinerary
If you’re travelling as part of a team, meetings may have already been scheduled for you. However, if you’re in charge of this process, make sure to allow for delays such as traffic or meetings over-running, and include enough downtime in between meetings for staff to go over the agenda. It’s also a good idea to leave some time free, should evening engagements crop up or if you have the chance to arrange an additional last minute meeting before flying home – in this instance, impress by hiring a SocietyM at citizenM meeting room.
Before you travel, it’s also a good idea to share your itinerary with someone back home, such as family or colleagues. It’s always sensible to make sure someone knows where you are, should you become ill.
Travelling abroad for business purposes can be exciting, but if you don’t properly research the culture and language, meetings could end up being disastrous. To avoid offence (or worse), make sure you’re clued up on body language, gestures, customs of gift giving, food etiquette and have learnt some basic phrases. If you’re visiting a warm climate, it’s also important to make sure that you still dress appropriately, too.
It all sounds a bit stressful, but not to worry. Follow these tips and your business trip should be a roaring success!