You’re off to parts unknown to meet with new clients or, at least prospective new clients.
The stress of the trip, itself, and what hinges on the result could have you in a bind. It’s during these times — unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people — you may be most likely to commit some sort of social blunder that could sink the deal or worse, offend someone or a lot of people.
It’s important to be a good guest wherever you’re going, be it another country, another state, or just another city. Below are travel etiquette tips for you to follow.
1. Learn About the Place You’re Going
Not every country has the same business culture, so it’s a good idea to brush up on the place you’ll be visiting.
For example: In countries like Turkey, a firm handshake is considered rude. In China, you should greet the oldest people first, and bow slightly.
2. Learn the Language, at Least a Little
Even though English has become the “common tongue” of the international business world, your hosts will still appreciate you making an effort to learn a little bit of their language.
Dropping in a simple “Hello” or “Thank you” or “It was nice meeting you” will go a long way if it’s in a language familiar to your hosts.
And no one’s suggesting you immerse yourself in a language course. Smartphone apps like Google Translate can be your best friend on a business trip.
3. Get There Early
If you can arrive a day or two before business begins, try to do so. This is one of the travel etiquette tips that will give you a chance to know more about the place and the people you’re visiting.
Talk to the concierge at your hotel about hiring a guide — one who speaks your language — who can show you around.
4. Keep Things Professional
There’s a difference between traveling and being on vacation. A work trip might be more relaxed than regular work, but only to a point.
Research your host country, if traveling abroad, to find out what’s appropriate professional conduct.
6. Learn How to Greet People
There is the handshake example above, of course. But it’s also wise to know the right way to address someone.
In China, for example, it’s customary to address business people by their title and family name.
7. Learn the Geography
Just as your hosts might appreciate you knowing how to speak a little of their language, they’ll also like knowing that you know where things are.
If you’re in Brazil, for example, it would help to know that Brasilia is the capital, and Sao Paolo is the largest city.