20 Sep 2019
1. Understanding your destination’s business culture
Are you travelling to a destination you are familiar with or are you entering unchartered territory? Either way, research is essential to avoid unnecessary risks. Being unaware of cultural differences may lead to amusing gaffes or misunderstandings, and possibly have a serious impact on your business relationship. It is important to be mindful of certain cultural nuances for a successful trip.
“When meeting potential business partners in Japan, punctuality is absolutely key. Being late will be perceived as being rude or unorganised. This is in contrast to other business cultures. I’ve heard that in Brazil, less emphasis is placed on punctuality and you should not be surprised if meetings start late and finish even later.”
– Sharon Tan, Centre Manager, The Centrepoint
2. Pack only the essentials
Packing light is key. As business trips don’t usually last very long, fight the temptation to over pack – you need far less than you think you do. That way, you’ll only need to take a carry-on luggage, and not waste time at the baggage counter.
Pack appropriately, and conservatively, depending on your destination. As a business traveller, you are likely wearing formal or business casual attire to meetings. Choose clothes that mix and match easily to extend your travel wardrobe.
3. Prepare a proper itinerary
Business trips are quick affairs that must be properly planned to ensure you can complete everything you need to get done before you return to your local office. Prepare a detailed itinerary and buffer some time for the unexpected. This includes factoring in busy traffic or meetings that may be delayed or have overrun.
Travelling by plane or have a long waiting time ahead of you? Use this time to catch up on work that you may be missing out on while you are on this trip. Time for yourself is important too. Allocate some down time to ensure you are in the best frame of mind to get everything done.
4. Make business connections
Network with your overseas colleagues, even outside of the workplace. Chat with them to find out more about how the business runs locally. This will help you practice your networking skills while gaining greater insight into that company’s local industry. You might also learn a thing or two from them, and build a good working relationship from the get go.
“Establishing a good relationship with our overseas counterparts is important. Similar to working in our teams here, having that personal connection with an overseas business associate makes it much easier to collaborate as we understand each other's working styles and preferences!
– Faye Chia, Leasing Officer, YewTee Point
5. Immerse in the local culture (if there’s time)
Travelling anywhere, especially across cultures is an opportunity to step outside your comfort zone. If there is time, immerse yourself in the local culture – spend time with your local colleagues from the business meetings. Dine with them and discover their culture. When working with people and building relationships, it helps to have some perspective and understanding of their culture.