The U.S. Dairy Exporter Blog: Market Analysis, Research & News

  • A Printable Guide to Etiquette for Your Next Overseas Business Trip

    By Mark O'Keefe July 2, 2015

    etiquetteDoing dairy business in a country where you don't know your manners? Save this infographic.

    It can be embarrassing to violate business etiquette here in the United States. But it can be ruinous overseas, where one culturally insensitive faux pas can damage you and your company’s reputation.

    “It’s about one thing: Trust, trust and trust,” says Richard Bradfield, vice president of dairy business & product development at International Ingredient Corporation in St. Louis, a USDEC member company.

    “Trust is not only about what you say but how you act and present yourself. When you go on these foreign trips, it’s a chance to build that trust.”

    Sometimes you need a little help. For example, most people know business gifts are customary in China but you may not know that giving a clock is a reminder of death, a real deal killer. A handy infographic from WD Storage below outlines several such dos and don’ts of international business conduct for just about any industry, including dairy. It covers seven countries.

    Read beyond the infographic for additional tips, including some from Nina Bakht Halal, director of USDEC’s Middle East office, based in Beirut.

    Bradfield’s personal advice picked up from years of doing global dairy business:

    • Travel with a trusted business associate from the native country to help you culturally interpret and act correctly.

    • Eat whatever is offered to you, using the native utensils, such as chopsticks, no matter how clumsy you may feel.

    • Learn a few words in the country’s language—even if it’s just “hello” and “thank you” spoken with an accent your hosts find amusing—the effort will be appreciated.

    • Avoid discussions about politics, especially U.S. foreign policy.

    Usually, fears are unfounded when conducting business in major international cities, says Nina Bakht Halal, director of USDEC’s Middle East office, based in Beirut.

    “It’s one thing if you are going to the middle of the desert to talk to a Bedouin in Petra,” says Bakht Halal. “But that’s different than talking to a businessman in Dubai. They are like you, someone who knows how to wheel and deal and work with money.

    “I know several USDEC members who have done very well in the cultures of the Middle East. They watched, they learned, they applied, they came back and now they go all over the region and have a lot of connections.”

    (Editor's Note: Parts of this post first appeared in the September 2014 edition of USDEC's Export Profile). 


    The U.S. Dairy Export Council is primarily supported by Dairy Management Inc. through the dairy farmer checkoff that builds on collaborative industry partnerships with processors, trading companies and others to build global demand for U.S. dairy products 

    Member Services China Middle East
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