If you want to maintain good relations with your international business partners as well as to avoid falling into a professional faux pas, it’s best to follow their own business cultures if you happen to be in any of these countries:
Punctuality is extremely important, so make sure to arrive at every business meeting on the dot (or a bit earlier than that).
The French are quite patriotic, even in business matters. If a foreigner like you can be quite conversational in French, you’ll get praises in doing such. They hold their language in high value as it is a part of their national identity. But if you do not and cannot speak French, they will appreciate it if you admit you’re not that really fluent in speaking their language.
The Japanese are generally known for being respectful and polite, and those traits also extend in the world of business. In a corporate meeting, the most senior person almost always leads discussions. Other members would not rather interrupt him or may not talk as much, in deference to the speaker.
Even if you disagree what the speaker is saying, avoid saying “no” at all cost — that would be rude to them. The Japanese will usually respond with a “yes” as a gesture of understanding to what the speaker is saying.
Business cards are still commonly used among Japanese businessmen. When offering a business card to someone, make sure to offer it with both hands, holding it between your thumb and forefingers. If your business card is printed in two languages — Japanese and your own native language — present it with the Japanese print facing up.
4. Other countries
Many businessmen from certain countries (such as Japan or Germany) commonly greet their business partners with a handshake, which is followed by a bow or a nod.
5. United States
Business meetings are quite informal and flexible in the United States. Transactions may be conducted over breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. You may even talk about serious business over coffee at Starbucks.
Avoid gift-giving, as Americans see it as a bribe. Instead, a hand-written “thank you” note is seen as more acceptable.
When making a handshake, make sure to do it firmly, and maintain an eye contact while shaking someone’s hand.
6. Middle East
In many Middle Eastern countries, people generally prefer to do business in person. Trust is one of their biggest issues, so make sure you look (and are) trustworthy whenever you conduct businesses with them. Many Middle Eastern people prefer face-to-face interaction with their colleagues.
It’s always preferable that you have a connection with a Middle Eastern businessman who can arrange introductions for you.
Unlike in the United States where you’re expected to do firm handshakes, soft and rather loose handshakes are typical across Africa.
Since many African countries had been colonized by the Europeans, their business culture usually follows that of the European countries. For example, Kenyans and Nigerians follow the English business etiquette, while South Africans adhere to the Dutch business customs.
8. United Kingdom
Business chaps in the UK rarely have eye contact whenever they conduct business meetings and conversations.
Initiating toasts with the person older than you is considered disrespectful.
If you are assigned to fly to China for business, don’t forget to bring a gift as a way to impress your Chinese colleagues. However, don’t expect them to accept your gift wholeheartedly. In Chinese business culture, it is typical for people to decline your presents up to three times before they finally accept them. So don’t bear grudges with them, or lose hope! Instead, persist on offering gifts before they’re finally accepted.
If you’re at a business dinner in India, you’d better be careful at what you’ll order. If you’re ordering a juicy steak or a hamburger, people there will readily have a bad impression on you. Cows are sacred in India, so they’ll frown upon you if you order beef dishes or even use items made of genuine cow leather (like wearing leather suits, shoes and belts, or carrying leather suitcases).