If you are a Westerner working to expand your business into Asia, the cultural differences can seem like daunting hurdles to cross. With a little research, however, you can get through your first few business meetings without grossly offending or insulting your business contacts, especially if your business contacts are used to dealing with Westerners. It is always in your best interests to learn as much as you can about the culture into which you are hoping to expand. To that end, here are three tips for successfully carrying on a business meeting with your Asian counterparts.
TIP 1: Before that important first meeting, ask advice from someone who is native to the country in which you will be doing business (or who has lived in and done business in the country for a significant amount of time) and get the low-down on appropriate behaviors. Shaking hands in greeting is not the norm in Thailand, Malaysia, or China, for instance, like it is in the West. You also need to know how to dress, how to show respect, and how to negotiate terms without causing your counterpart to lose face. The Internet can help you in understanding some of these proper behaviors, but there is nothing like getting advice from someone who lives in and truly understands the culture.
TIP 2: Consider renting serviced offices in Asia as a way to look more professional and successful. While some of your business courtship will involve socializing over meals and drinks in restaurants and bars, a well-appointed office in which to talk nuts and bolts speaks volumes for your ability to bring benefit to your potential business partner. A big advantage in such rental office spaces is that receptionists and other staff are often native to the country and will be able to greet and serve your guests appropriately. Finally, renting beautiful, fully-furnished office space on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis means you can focus on expansion and not on sorting out the real estate situation.
TIP 3: Keep your emotions in check. We Westerners are very open with our facial expressions and the use of our hands in speaking. The people in most Asian countries, however, would find toothy smiles and loud bursts of laughter, slapping on the back, and even joke telling to be alarming or insulting until you know them very, very well. Maintain a respectful formality, limit your hand waving, and be ready to engage in plenty of small talk as trust is built on both sides.
These key tips for meeting with business contacts in Asia will help ensure that you avoid cultural faux pas. Remember that research and preparation into cultural norms is incredibly valuable as you work to expand your contacts in Asian countries. Presentation is also important, and the environment you conduct your business meetings in may ultimately affect your company’s long term success. For help with renting exquisite serviced offices in Asia, contact CEO SUITE to learn more and discover how shared offices help companies impress their clients.