More companies than ever before are doing business on a global scale, meaning attendees of your business meetings could hail from the four corners of the world.
When meeting international colleagues or customers it’s important to show that you respect their cultures and traditions; every country will have its own ways of conducting business and by showing you have a knowledge and appreciation of them you give your meetings a greater chance of being successful.
The Passport 2 Trade 2.0 project led by the SalfordBusinessSchool has been studying business etiquette across the globe for a number of years.
We take a closer look at some of their meeting-related findings…
Make an appointment
Ad hoc meetings called at the last minute may be the norm in your office, but if you are dealing with French business partners or customers, remember to book well in advance. Just ‘dropping in’ or calling someone into a meeting with no advance warning is considered rude.
Dress to impress
As you would expect from such a stylish nation, business dress is taken very seriously in France and it is customary for men to keep their suit jackets on throughout the working day, so don’t be the first to remove yours in a meeting.
Stick to the agenda
Business meetings are taken very seriously in Germany and are usually run to a strict agenda, with decisive outcomes decided before everyone leaves. If you are organising a meeting with German clients, a lot of preparation in advance could serve you well, as will following up with a summary of the minutes afterwards.
In the Netherlands, where the focus is on being very egalitarian, it is customary to ask all meeting attendees to provide feedback on the session afterwards.
In Greece, it is often customary to talk business over a good meal, so if you really want to wow a client, arrange your meeting in a restaurant. Greek businesspeople also tend to like to form personal relationships with their business contacts, so don’t jump straight into talking shop as soon as you sit down.
Be aware of public holidays
When arranging meetings, be aware that other countries have different public holidays to the UK and that some nations have many more. Spain for example has at least 14 public holidays and if they fall on a Tuesday or a Thursday then many people take a four-day weekend.
Get to know attendees
In Spain it is considered rude to get straight down to business, instead you should spend the first part of the meeting discussing more informal topics such as the weather, family and people’s journeys to the meeting.
Meet with the right person
In Poland, businesses tend to be very hierarchical, so it’s important to make sure you are meeting with the appropriate person, rather than a low-level staff member who will have to report back to a decision-maker before anything can actually be decided.
A firm handshake
All countries will have their own customs for ending meetings and it’s important to do your research or you could leave a lasting bad impression. For example, in Poland it is important to shake everyone’s hand individually when saying goodbye. A group wave would be considered rude.
Posted by Julie Tucker