American Business Etiquette
by Claire Valenty on January 23, 2010
In the United States business is conducted at the speed of light!
Being one of the largest economies of the world, its business practices are generally very well respected. But when going to the United States, remember that the Americans like to be efficient and quick with their work.
So what should you expect on the first meeting with a potential client?
1. A corporate gift
2. Product specs and a final contract
3. Rounds and rounds of drinks before getting to business!
Yup, number 3 isn’t even a remote option when conducting business in US. American business etiquette dictates that gift giving in business context doesn’t happen until the deal is closed, especially between men! Although there aren’t any taboos about gift giving, gifts from your local country or culture are always appreciated.
So yes number 2 is the correct answer. American business people are so eager and quick that expect many sales reps to travel with a final contract just in case! Business talk is started after a very small exchange of words.
In short, Americans like to get down to business!
So, American business etiquettes say that punctuality is a must. The bad thing is that in major American cities traffic delays are normal. So when leaving for an appointment, make haste! If you have been invited to a dinner, being on time is very crucial to your image.
Some more points to keep in consideration:
* Keep at least an arms length distance when conversing.
* Business is usually conducted on a more direct, first name basis.
* Americans smile a lot, even at strangers. They appreciate it if their smiles are returned.
* Eye contact is important when shaking someone’s hand. But keep a firm grip!
* “See you later” is just an expression. People say this even if they never plan to see you again.
* Americans prefer directness in communication. Yes means yes and No means no!
But all this informality doesn’t mean you forget your manners! Words like “thank you”, “please”, “excuse me” should be used regularly.
A word of caution: American business etiquette requires that American women be treated no differently than men. American women don’t appreciate the gender- related “special help” that most Asian and Middle Eastern men usually find OK. So, whenever going to lunch, keep in mind that whoever invites pays!