Business travel should be more than just attending meetings at a specified destination. It should also be about achieving the desired goals and long-term business relationships in the most courteous and respectful way possible. To do this you need to research the business culture, meeting etiquette and cuisine before embarking on your trip.
Research business travel destination
Do your homework to gain insight into the cultural customs of the country and of those who will be attending the same meeting as you will be. For example, some countries encourage tipping while in others it is taboo and some have very strict seating arrangements around the table. Many Western countries have the basic etiquette requirements of being on time, giving a firm handshake and dressing smart casual but for other countries and cultures it may go beyond these and knowing what they are will benefit you and the company you are representing.
Be punctual at all times. This is the most obvious way to make a good impression on business clients. If you are the organiser of the meeting then make sure you set a very clear agenda and time schedule with good enforcement strategies in place. Arriving early is perceived as being attentive, dedicated to building good business relationships, success and goal orientated.
Never leave a meeting early. Some cultures consider this rude and highly disrespectful.
Travel with business cards in your briefcase and hand them out with due care and respect. The Japanese culture, for instance is very hospitable and formal with meetings commencing with the exchange of business cards. Offer a card by holding out both hands as a sign of respect. Flinging a card across the table does not bode well in many cultures even if it takes place in a restaurant.
The use of body language may seem awkward particularly in situations when your personal space has been violated, but for instance in Brazil this is a very important step to developing the trust and respect for building long-term business relationships. They stand very close with physical contact during conversation. This is a sign of trust so as uncomfortable as it may seem for you, it is very normal for others.
Business travel attire
How you dress is the first impression clients and prospective business associates will have of you and the company you represent. Following a formal, conservative approach is the safest when it comes to your attire whether male or female. Colour does not matter as much as style, however the focus of the meeting needs to be on the points in the agenda and not the bright colours and patterns of your clothing.
Above all of these business travel tips, remember to praise the country you are visiting and avoid any form of criticism. Also be extra, extra vigilant about the use of Social Media while on business travel.
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