Most of us think that business transactions take place in offices and boardrooms throughout the world, in truth a great number of business deals are agreed in much more informal settings.
A surprising amount of business arrangements are conceived at events such as conferences and networking events and when discussions need to continue further they are often carried through to business dinners, a universal tradition of extending business talks to a more informal and relaxed environment.
Hosting or attending a business dinner may be fairly simple in your own county, but one overseas could be a different story.
Unfamiliar surroundings mixed with cultural differences can lead to simple misunderstandings that can easily offend or upset, and ultimately diminish business relationships.
But with a bit of homework avoiding offending your dinner guests when traveling on business needn’t be difficult. Of course, it’s important to stick to some basics no matter where you are in the world.
Order something that won’t be messy to eat
The other way to think about this: Don’t show up hungry—you’re primarily there for business or at least business representation that will aid future negotiations, so don’t think of the food as the primary concern. Order something that’s quick and easy eat.
Don’t get drunk
In nearly all cases getting drunk at a business dinner is unacceptable and while it may seem like a great idea at the time it’s likely to have unforeseen repercussions that will come back to haunt you.
Don’t use your smartphone
At least, don’t use your smartphone too much—you may be in a more informal setting, but you’re there to build business relationships, not level up your Pokémon Go score.
Be polite to the waiters
Even if the service is terrible and you’re tempted to take it out on the waiters, remember that your behavior over a business dinner is being watched. If you can’t handle the stress of a restaurant mishap then would you really make a reliable business partner?
Check out the menu before you arrive
When possible, read the restaurant’s menu before you arrive, you will seem knowledgeable and can keep your mind on business when you arrive rather than concentrating on a menu.
And if you’re really setting out to impress our top tip to impress when meeting potential new business partners overseas is to have your business card printed on both sides: one side as normal and a translated side with all details written out in the language of your host nation.
Once you’re set to venture overseas, explore this new infographic, created by Principal Hayley Hotels, for some basic business dinner etiquette tips from 13 countries around the world that just might help you make the planning and execution of your first foreign business dinner a success.
- How you should greet your future business partners
- When and where to sit without causing offense
- Rules and traditions around the drinking of alcohol
- When and how to introduce the topic of business