Landing a job with global responsibilities is a big win. Why? Handled successfully, it is the springboard to a bigger role.
However, there are pitfalls to be avoided if you want to leverage this golden opportunity. International business travel, involving extended conferences and meetings, are an integral part a global job. Making a good first impression on your counterparts abroad is essential.
Recently, I was quoted in a Forbes.com article “Your Basic Guide to Business Abroad” In it you’ll find a wealth of resources on countries, what to expect, cultural dos and don’ts, etc.
For example, are you aware that your usual modus operandi may be a turn off to your international colleagues? Americans tend to be very friendly and talkative. In Japan, that could be seen as a sign of disrespect. Instead, listen, watch and learn how others behavior before inserting yourself into the conversation.
What you wear is also crucial. Casual business attire will not fit in many countries. In Japan, business people dress in conservative dark business suits. Business cards are given using both hands, as are gifts.
To ignore the cultural markers will label you clueless and unprepared for an international assignment. Worse, you run the risk of damaging the reputation of your department and boss. Your poise and behavior are a direct reflection of their good or bad judgment about people.
There are books that offer information on tipping, visa requirements, and weather such as Fromer’s, Fodor’s and Lonely Planet. To read about business etiquette, manners and cultures check out: http://www.cyborlink.com or http://www.executiveplanet.com.
For tips on travel advice by country, visit the U.S. Department of State website at http://www.state.gov/misc/list/index.htm and for travel and safety warnings by country http://travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html
Finally, try to build a free day into your itinerary for sightseeing. This may be the only time you’ll get to see this country.