Crucial Steps to Avoid International Business Meeting Disasters

A successful Asia Pacific Global Entrepreneur may work for months to get the right business contacts and meetings set up prior to getting on an airplane for the long journey to the country selected to do business in.

Assuming that business meetings will be conducted in the same manner as they are at “home” is a big mistake that can thwart success.

Here are some great tips for business meeting preparation, dress, and etiquette:

Business Meeting Preparation:

  • When planning meetings, avoid national, religious, and New Year’s holidays.
  • It is best to work through an intermediary that can bridge any gaps between parties.
  • Send an agenda prior to the meeting so colleagues have a chance to consult with their own personnel prior to the meeting.  Be sure to have a translator or intermediary review the agenda prior to sending.
  • Be prepared for the highest ranking member of the company to act as the representative.  Asians value rank and status.
  • Prepare promotional materials and samples of work or products – be sure that all materials comply with social customs and include international contact information (phone number, state/territory and country, e-mail, website and social media information).
  • Create planning and organizational charts – be prepared to provide these when requested.
  • Business plans – include both detailed plans and plan summaries.  Plan to leave these with potential business partners.
  • Letters of Recommendation – it is always smart to have satisfied customers and clients do the speaking for a business through letters of recommendation since people are inherently skeptical about doing business with new companies.
  • Credibility Builders – along with Letters of Recommendation, provide any documentation that will offer tremendous credibility.  Potential business partners need to know as much as possible about those they’ll choose to do business with.
  • Research local news and cultural issues.  Find out what the local “buzz” is about in order to participate in conversation (though best to refrain from providing opinions on local issues!)
  • Print international business cards – include the international calling code with all phone numbers (for example, U.S. and Canada is +1).  Completely spell out the state, territory, and country.  Include a photo on the business card (smiles are best).
  • Use a personalized domain name for e-mail.  If that domain name is taken, add the numbers “888”, a favorite Asian number.

Business Dress and Etiquette:

  • In general, business attire is very conservative.  Men wear dark colored, conservative business suits.  In countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, it’s appropriate to wear local clothing.
  • Women wear conservative business suits or dresses with a high neckline and long sleeves.  Shoes should be low-heeled or flat.
  • In Muslim countries, chest must be covered for women and men must wear long sleeves.
  • Jeans are acceptable outside of business meetings.
  • All dress is acceptable for those entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Internet / technology, fashion, arts, or music industry.
  • Bowing or nodding is the most common greeting; however a handshake may also be offered.

Don’t make the same mistakes that many budding entrepreneurs make.  Though doing business abroad is different than doing business at home, careful planning and preparation can pave the way for smooth business processes.

If you would like to be part of a 95,000 person network that has successfully learned how to do business abroad, register for “The Excellerated Business School for Entrepreneurs” coming up in November 2013.  This program (taught in English) will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  Find out more here:

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