Advice for traveling business women

Businesswomen Abroad

Learn to greet your business host in his or her language. This show of respect and consideration is always appreciated.

Always meet your business contacts in the lobby of your hotel. Avoid giving out your room number.

Print your business cards in English on one side and in the language of the host country on the other. Especially in countries where women generally don’t hold key corporate positions, this will eliminate any misunderstanding about the rank and position you hold within your profession.

Find out the correct way to give and receive business cards. In China (including Hong Kong) and Japan, you’re expected to use both hands. However, in parts of the Middle East, you must never use your left hand, as that hand is considered unclean.

Dress appropriately. If local women don’t wear trousers to the office, you shouldn’t either. Wear sensible shoes that allow you to stand for long periods and to move quickly if necessary.

Learn how to decline food graciously during business dinners so that no one will be insulted. For example, in Asia, leave some food in your bowl. This implies that your hosts have fed you well and you’re no longer hungry. Understand that, in some countries, even if you do business with men during the day, you may be seated separately, with women only, for evening dining.

In certain cultures, businessmen may consider it acceptable to proposition or to flirt with visiting businesswomen. Don’t be offended. A simple and direct “no” is appropriate. Before offering gifts to your hosts, make sure that the type of present and even the colour of the wrapping paper are culturally acceptable.