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Trade Routes: Courtesy is Not Obsolete

By: Michael Wynne
Posted: February 11, 2008, from the February 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

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1. Notify people in advance of your desire to visit with them.
The best approach would be to obtain an introduction from someone who knows the person you wish to visit. Barring that, try a phone call—followed by letters, e-mails or faxes—requesting an appointment on a certain date and time. Do all this far in advance of your trip.

2. Adjust your schedule as best as possible to that of the person you’re calling on.
The best time of the day for appointments in other countries depends upon the nature of local workday habits and what’s convenient to the individual, as well as other circumstances. Although it may not always be possible, try for a morning meeting. This allows you and your host some flexibility to schedule the rest of the day.

3. Be punctual and respect the other person’s time.
Even if local customs are lax regarding punctuality, it is still a courtesy in most places to arrive on time. Be prepared, however, to wait if your host is not yet ready.

4. Allow time to get to know one another before discussing business.
In some countries, it is considered bad form to discuss business in the first meeting. Nevertheless, it is acceptable, in most cases, to state the purpose of your visit, as it is not social at its root.

5. Provide an interpreter when there is a language barrier.
If the person you are meeting does not speak your language, it is your responsibility to bring an interpreter. It is also to your advantage to have your own interpreter rather than rely on the other party’s. In addition, when you hire interpreters, find out if they have worked for the other person before. There could be an existing relationship between the interpreter and the person you are visiting, which might not favor you.