Top 10 Global Meeting Etiquette Tips

When doing business in the Asia Pacific region, it is so important NOT to attempt to infuse our own cultures, habits, and etiquette into business meetings and deals.  Here are 10 tips to help everyone prepare for business meetings abroad:

  1. Meetings generally begin with small talk:  This is a great time to talk about your positive experiences in the country so far.  Beware of using humor, not because Asians don’t have a sense of humor but things can get lost or confused in translation.  Avoid talking about anything political!  Visitors should provide their own interpreter.
  2. Meetings require patience:  Mobile phones ring frequently (and people answer!)  Conversations tend to be animated.  Never ask anyone to turn off their mobile phone.
  3. Meetings require time for discussion:  any ideas raised by an individual need to be discussed gently to avoid exposing that person.  Take the time to thoroughly discuss any ideas.
  4. Gift Giving:  Plan to bring key chains or other small items from your home or industry.  Inexpensive and non-perishable food baskets or alcohol items make excellent gifts (for example, wine from California or maple syrup from the northeastern U.S.).  Books, magazines, and educational materials related to your industry that may not be available in the country visited also make great offerings.  If you give a quality writing pen as a gift, make sure it doesn’t use red ink.
  5. Avoid large hand movements:  Most Asians do not “speak with their hands” and visitors should follow suit.  Do not point when speaking.  If there is a need to point, use an open palm rather than the index finger.
  6. Body language should remain calm:  Body posture should always be formal and attentive.  This shows self-control and is worthy of respect.  Some countries consider it improper to put hand or fingers in the mouth – best to avoid this behavior.
  7. Have a powerful, concise conversation ready:  Include the higher purpose in the enrollment discussion.  Talk about the bigger picture – about the industry as a whole – and not just about a specific business.
  8. Invite others to speak:  Promote an environment that is open for discussion and feedback.  Acknowledge those offering ideas.
  9. Do not promote specific products or services right away:  It is best to wait to be asked for the product and service information that’s being offered.
  10. Prepare a Memorandum of Understanding:  Once both sides agree on moving ahead with doing business together, prepare an MOU to start the action.  Licensing and other agreements can be completed later.

Knowing proper business meeting etiquette can go a long way in opening up new business ventures in the Asia Pacific region and beyond.  Creating a welcoming atmosphere that is respectful of culture and business practices rather than trying to force Western ideas on others will go a long way in establishing the rapport and relationships that are vital to doing business abroad.

Learn more about taking your business global by signing up for “The Excellerated Business School for Entrepreneurs” to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in November 2013.  This program, presented in English, will allow you to take the next step in opening your business in other countries.  Don’t delay in registering for this life-changing event.  See more information at

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