When you are taking on business in a new location, adapting to the local culture and etiquette is the key to success. Without it, you simply won’t gain the same level of acceptance and respect in the local business community.
In Western countries, etiquette tends to be similar – or close enough that you can get away with minor slips. However, Asian customs can be vastly different to the etiquette Western entrepreneurs are used to.
Here’s what you need to know!
Decipher the culture
Take it upon yourself to research everything you possibly can about your new society – the religion, beliefs, hierarchy, social norms and values. By gaining an understanding, you’ll find it easier to be respectful in your actions.
Research non-economic influences
Sometimes, other factors can influence business, such as religion, family and loyalty. Look into this to be sure you know the score if these factors become involved.
Understand the importance of business cards
Exchanging business cards is a very common practice in Asia Pacific countries, so always be sure to keep some on hand – both in English and the local language.
Take note of negotiation practices
In some Asian cultures, negotiation is more than just business. You may need to consider gifts!
Always save face
Face is another essential concept to understand while working in Asia. Avoid creating stressful situations and create relationships to reach practical answers, rather than demanding a ‘yes or no’ response.
Be prepared for extra-curricular activities
You may be invited to business dinners, local events or even the homes of your associates. Understand what you should give as a gift and how to behave during these events.
Take a bi-lingual approach
All business copy should be produced in the local language as well as English. All information that is outlined should be clear and precise. If you do not speak the language, hiring a translator is a worthwhile investment.
Value business relationships
Rather than getting what you need from people in the short term, try to build long-lasting relationships that will help you in the long haul.
Pick up the local phrases
Even if you don’t speak the language, it’s polite to learn at least the basic phrases and greetings to show you’re making an effort to share in the culture.
Adapt your mannerisms accordingly
Asian countries often value mannerisms you may not be used to, relating to your body language, phrasing and even timing, as well as cultural traditions such as removing shoes or bowing.
By learning more about Asian culture and business etiquette before making the move, you’ll find integrating into foreign industries even easier than you anticipated.