In our day and age, businesses are no longer constricted by borders or language barriers. We have created a truly globalized and inter-connected society that thrives on the expansion of knowledge, technology, and communication. Now more than ever, businesses are expanding abroad and forming important partnerships overseas. Whether it is your first time conducting an international business trip or you simply want to make a great impression, here are our best tips and tricks to do so.
In order to ensure smooth travel, you should have all of your essential items with you. A great way to make sure that you haven’t forgotten anything is by making a comprehensive checklist. This should include items like your travel documents, itinerary, laptop, chargers, business cards, and cash in the local currency.
We recommend trying to pack lightly, especially if the business trip is for a short period of time. If you only carry hand-luggage, you will be able to get through airport security much faster. However, if you do check in a suitcase make sure to carry any essential items in your hand luggage in case of an emergency.
Navigate Like a Professional
Before setting off on your business trip, make sure you do your research so that you can navigate like a professional. Don’t forget to set your watch to the local time zone and to check the weather before you depart. You want to make sure you pack appropriately.
If you have a layover make use of the airport lounges, this is a great place to relax and prep for your business meetings. Make sure your passport is far from its expiry date and that you have all of the necessary visas. Many countries will demand that you have at least six months of validity on your passport before you enter the territory.
Take Care of Your Health
Taking care of your health whilst you are traveling is extremely important, especially given the current climate and the coronavirus pandemic. Make sure you have international travel insurance so that you are covered in case of an emergency.
Another important thing to remember on your trip is to bring any prescription medicine that you may need. If you suffer from allergies make sure you know how to say this in the local language.
Don’t Come Empty-Handed
An easy way to make a great first impression is to bring a traditional gift from your own country. If you can’t find anything traditional to your country, try to find an item that is difficult to find in the country that you’re visiting. This doesn’t have to be overly expensive, just a small token of your gratitude that is thoughtful or represents your country. Worst case scenario a high-quality pen or paperweight always goes down a treat.
In some cultures, especially in Middle Eastern or Asian countries, you will be expected to bring a gift. In China, it is considered rude to not bring a gift to a business meeting, however, it is customary for your gift to be rejected up to three times before finally being accepted. Just make sure to respect cultural nuances and be mindful of where you are traveling.
For example, if you are doing business in a Muslim country, don’t think about bringing any alcohol or food with traces of pork. Other taboos are less obvious, for example in China gifting a clock is a sign of disrespect and bad luck. Similarly, men in Muslim cultures are not allowed to wear silk or gold, so stay far away from these materials.
Follow Local Customs
If you want to be remembered fondly during your business trip, make sure to follow local customs and immerse yourself in the culture as much as you can. As the old saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. It never hurts to download a language application or to pick up a phrasebook in the airport to learn some key sentences. You don’t have to master the language, but a simple “hello”, “thank you”, and “nice to meet you” can go a long way.
Do your research about how people interact and conduct business in the country that you are traveling to. More often than not, each country will have its own way of doing things. Meetings and how they are structured can vary greatly all around the world. Similarly, introductions and dinner etiquette can be vastly different across cultures. These small differences could make or break a deal, so brush up on your research before your flight.
Conducting business internationally can help your business gain exposure and boost your global reputation, so it is important that you conduct business correctly. You only have one chance to make a great first impression so what are you waiting for?