Enhance your business etiquette to boost international business

Posted on 01 Mar 2016

Enhance your business etiquette to boost international business

When you work in international markets, language skills and professional translation will stand your business in good stead both in terms of how it's perceived and help to build a competitive advantage over your competitors.

Relying on language skills is not enough; to build new or strengthen existing relationships with clients, your business needs to understand and get to grips with the various cultural differences and etiquettes.

Learning the customs, manners, etiquette and societal 'norms' of the country you're doing business in or the people you intend to work with requires research. It is understandably hard to be aware of every detail relating to a country’s culture, you should however be aware of the key factors you could encounter that may directly impact on your business. For example:

Germany:

- being punctual is important; call if you'll be late and explain why. Cancelling a meeting last minute is considered rude and could risk your business relationship

- your academic credentials and how long your firm has been in business will matter to your contacts

- keep small talk to a minimum; Germans get down to business quickly

- ensure your printed material is available in both German and English.

France:

- if you don't speak French, apologising for this may help build relationships

- don't expect a quick decision; business is conducted slowly and is hierarchical, so business people tend to discuss proposals in detail with the person at the top

- don't discuss personal matters during business negotiations.

Japan:

- in meetings, the most senior person will be seated furthest from the door

- at the end of a meeting, give a small gift as a token of your esteem to the most senior person

- Japanese people tend to be non-confrontational and find it hard to say 'no'

- treat the business card you've been given with great respect

- have one side of your business card translated into Japanese and present it this side up.

It may seem like a minefield but help is available. UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) is a government department that works with UK businesses helping to ensure their success in international markets. It has Language and Culture Advisers who will provide guidance and advice on communication, business etiquette and cultural understanding.

And if you're looking for support when it comes to professional translation, City Legal can help. We'll ensure your language skills make the grade when doing business with international clients - whatever the country or culture - thanks to our mother tongue legal translators. To find out more about the City Legal service, contact us on 01329 828438 or info@citylegal.co.uk

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