Before Your Next Trip Overseas…

Travelling abroad for work can often be an exciting and rewarding perk of your career. It is an opportunity to visit a new place, meet new people and see new sights. Often, traveling abroad for work isn’t always just about work, and usually involves some leisure time as well.

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You will be conducting business with those you are traveling to meet, and perhaps even travelling around the city or country with them as well during some leisure time.

As much as your mind is (and should be) focused on the important meetings to come, it is imperative that you take the time to do some research on the culture you will be visiting before you leave the comfort of your home. Ed Fuller from Marriott International, details the importance of knowing about others’ culture while traveling, in his article for Forbes Magazine.

Before you leave on your trip, consider completing some of the following exercises so that you can get the most out of your business trip, which will benefit both you personally, as well as the company you represent.

Watch YouTube videos

YouTube videos are a great way to see and hear about a foreign culture. Videos might be the most effective research tool, as you get both sound and movement, and can really start to appreciate the culture of a certain country.

There are also endless videos out there, and so finding appropriate ones should be fairly simple. For instance, you can search “traditional Peruvian meal” and watch how a meal might be cooked as well as consumed. You may also search things such as “traditional Indian dance” or “Moroccan cultural ceremonies.”

Learn your “hello’s” and “goodbye’s”

It is always a good idea to learn a few basic words or phrases in the language of the country you are visiting. Not only will it show that you did your research (this will likely be viewed as a sign of respect), but it is a great way to connect with others on a deeper level, which may help to foster and grow professional relationships.

If you don’t have a great memory, or if you don’t have time to sit and memorize how to say “thank you” in Swahili, create a cheat sheet before you leave that you can study on your 24 flight to Kenya. 

Pick up a small travel guide of your destination 

Many bookstores sell small travel guides to the majority of popular destinations. In them, you’ll find a plethora of information on the country in question in a(n often) very small package, one that you can likely take with you in your carry-on. It will outline many common phrases, places to eat, and sights to see.

The fact that this is a business trip, as opposed to a leisure vacation, indicates that it is important to learn as much about the new culture as possible. This will reflect extremely well on you as a business professional, which will also translate back to your company. Present your best and most informed self, especially when traveling for business.

 

How to Nail Your Next Skype Call

There is no question that technology has integrated itself so seamlessly in the world of business that almost no business transaction can be completed without its use. The need to keep up with the world of technology has never been so pronounced, especially when it comes to your career.

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A relatively recent technology that has proven extremely valuable in the world of business is Skype. If you are unfamiliar with it, it is a software application that allows two people who have access to a computer to contact each other via the Internet; the webcam is also frequently used for video calling. Skype has allowed people from around the world to video-call each other for free.

More and more, Skype is becoming a convenient way of conducting meetings and interviews when a face-to-face situation is not possible. An interview over the phone is one thing, but the ability to see the other person is invaluable (we all know how important body language can be, especially in an interview setting). Skype interviews and meetings can sometimes be unnerving, so here we offer you some tips for the preparation of your next Skype call, so you can be as prepared as possible and nail it!

It’s all in the preparation

  • Although you may be in the comfort of your own home or office, that does not mean that you do not have to adequately prepare because you may have access to notes or documents that might help you through the call. It’s good to have some notes jotted down, but do not rely on them to get you through.
  • Because the individual on the other end of the call can see your home/office, it is integral that you clean before the interview! What will a potential employer think when he sees the messy room behind you?
  • Be sure to always use the washroom before your call. This may seem silly, but it won’t when you’re in the middle of explaining why you are the best candidate for the job and you have to excuse yourself to visit the restroom. This can be easy to forget, as you are already in a familiar setting.
  • Be sure to have anything you foresee yourself needing during the call at your nearest disposal. For example, it is always a good idea to have a glass of water nearby.
  • Be sure to do a test call just before your scheduled call to ensure that the framing of your computer is right, and that the lighting in the room is perfect.

Because of the comfort often associated with a Skype call (you are often in your safe space), it can be easy to forget some basic principles of a traditional job interview, such as adequate preparation, and even your self-presentation. It is important to remember, however, that the stakes are always high, and that the way you prepare for and present during a Skype call has profound and lasting effects on your executive presence!

Dining Etiquette in China – 10 Must-Know Tips for Business Travelers

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dining etiquette in chinaAs the world grows smaller, you may find yourself travelling from one major city to another for business. If you’re a leading executive you know that major business deals are signed not only in the boardroom, but at the golf course and the dining table. With that being said, international business etiquette, including dining etiquette plays a major role when it comes to conducting business successfully in foreign nations.

Did you know that there are thousands of people who travel to China every year for business? No matter where you travel, being sensitive of other cultures and learning the codes of how locals conduct themselves can earn you valuable points. The Chinese take their food seriously. Contrary to Western dining, dining etiquette in China involves sharing food from common bowls.

If you’re travelling to China to sign a major corporate business deal, pay heed to these top 10 dining etiquette rules by Sally Huang, who hails from Guangzhou, China, before you head out to your next Chinese business dinner:

1. Attend the formal business dinner punctual in formal suits. It is better to bring some small gifts or good win per status of the relationship with the host.

2. Take appropriate seat as they are usually arranged according to seniority. If you are not sure about it, ask the host or wait and see how others take seats.

3. Don’t be surprised if your host orders more food than you can have as it is usually the way Chinese show their hospitality. Moreover, it is a way to show their “Mian zi”, namely face in English as Chinese attach great importance to mianzi.

To reiterate it further, Mianzi, or “face” in English, can loosely be translated to “status” or “self-respect”. A huge part of Chinese social etiquette, having “face” means you are viewed as someone who is respected by your peers, superiors and subordinates. Mianzi can also be understood as the avoidance of embarrassment in front of others.

4. Don’t point your chopsticks directly at others or straight upright in your rice bowl as it resembles the incense burnt at funerals.

5. Don’t slurp your soup loudly at the dinner table as it is considered as impolite.

6. Take food first from the plates in front of you rather than those in the middle or in front of others. Avoid using your chopsticks burrowing through the food and gazing your eyes to the plates as it is thought as bad table manners.

7. Use a spoon that no one has used before to take food from communal plates for yourself or others even though it is common in China that in family gathering or company gathering, people use their own chopsticks to get food.

8. When adding rice to your bowl, it is polite to take initiative to fill the bowls of the elders and others.

9. Drinking bear is a core process. If you are toasting with others, usually it is expressed with the words “Gan bei”, which is denoted as “Cheers” in English, mainly bottoms up or empty your glass. It is not necessary to empty your glass, but to leave a good impression, it would be good to do it or bring someone who can drink on your part.

10. It is usually the host who pays for the bill excluding informal gatherings among friends and other similar occasions. However, in Chinese custom, it is polite to make an effort to pay, that’s the reason why it is common to see some Chinese fighting fierce for the right to pay.

Learning about dining etiquette in China or any other country can give you a major advantage in procuring the deal, especially if you’re competing with other firms.

Talk to Diane Craig before you head out to foreign lands to procure your next business deal. Her international etiquette tips might just be the difference between returning with your head held high – or down.