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Business meeting in Vietnam is a crucial custom that leads to successful deals in commercial trades and contracts. Provided that you would like to be involved in the Vietnamese business, it is vital to familiarize yourself with some formal etiquette known as the business meeting tips.
Whenever it comes to business meetings in Vietnam, there is always an announcement of the meeting dates and locations beforehand via phone calls, emails, or even verbal conversation in case of emergency. Usually, the exact date of business meetings in Vietnam is officially announced within seven days at most prior to the meeting date, and you should confirm your attendance at least 1-2 days ahead to save you some time for preparation. The business meeting often takes place at business hotels, the host team’s company or sometimes at coffee workspaces.
If you're traveling abroad to join a meeting in Vietnam, booking a flight and finding accommodation should also be taken into consideration. In case you are not familiar with the country or the area you are invited to, try contacting the meeting host in advance, and they are ready to assist you.
Or find your hotel on Agoda for a less complicated booking process:
A firm handshake and name card exchange among attendants are mostly taken as the greetings at the very first moment of Vietnamese business meetings. Before the meeting officially takes place, the members are allowed to have small talk and free discussion to know each other better.
In Vietnam, it is formal to add to a salutation, like Mr., Mrs., Ms. to their surname name. Note that for Vietnamese names, the surname goes first on the business card name order, so it would be the surname, middle, then given name. In informal meetings, it is alright to address the person by his/her first name.
For business meetings that take place in a private room equipped with a long table, people sit in accordance with the rank order with the seniority getting the center seat at the end of the table.
A long table is often preferred for formal business meetings in Vietnam
A welcome and introduction speech will be made by the host team’s representative who delivers a meeting agenda and opens the business discussion. As with any other business meeting, mobile phones should be kept in silent mode before the meeting starts.
Vietnamese are hospitable in formal business meetings, and to show appreciation for the time taken, people thank each other when the meeting comes to an end.
Check our guide on useful phrases in Vietnamese to know some basic words like pronouns, goodbye and thank you.
Traveling to Vietnam for business can be very stressful if you are not acquainted with the business culture. Here are some common manners to show your professionalism when joining a business meeting in Vietnam.
The Vietnamese highly value punctual arrival at the meeting, especially in professional business conferences. Once attending a business meeting in Vietnam, you need to be at least 15 minutes early as regard of respect and politeness. It is advisable to leave for the meeting at least 1 hour before the starting time in case of traffic jams or unexpected incidents.
Don't let your lateness be a disruption for the meeting
Like most Asian countries, the level of job titles is fundamental, so remember to let the team leader enter first. The hosting staff will welcome you to the room and guide you to your seats.
Name Card Exchange And Handshake
Name card exchange is one of the most critical business meeting tips in Vietnam for the first encounter. Businesspeople present name cards to counterparts as a sign of their introduction and willing-to-know attitude. It is advisable that you provide your name card with both English and Vietnamese exclusively on each side so that the counterparts can know you better since they also receive many cards from others.
Remember to present and receive the name card with two hands
Whenever presenting or receiving a name card from others, do it with the side of the language the other can read facing up and you should use both hands to express your respect and sincerity. Moreover, the name cards should be first given to the person who has the highest position among the groups, then they can be handed to all those attending the meeting. Last but not least, once receiving a name card from another, you should take a look at it for a while before putting it into the front pocket of your suit or your wallet.
Handshake is crucial in the first meeting
Being different from Western people whose hugs are the prevalent way to say “hi”, the Vietnamese use handshake as a common way of greeting in business meetings. A firm handshake always shows your enthusiasm and sincerity. The person in higher seniority and rank is usually the one who offers a handshake, and the other takes it with two hands. While shaking hands is a typical gesture between two persons with the same genders, it is more optional between a businesswoman and a businessman. You should allow the lady to extend her hand first as a form of respect, or bow slightly to greet in case she does not.
Business Attire in Formal Vietnamese Meetings
The formal styles of business attire in Vietnam are conservative, which often require men to wear dark color suits accompanying with a tie and a jacket, but sometimes the jacket can be left out due to the hot weather in Vietnam. Women should wear dresses or shirts with pencil skirts or pants in formal meetings - the skirts and dresses must reach the knee length. Close-toed shoes and heels are preferred. In general, it is recommended that your dress codes be neat, tidy, and presentable.
Business dress codes in Vietnam should not be casual clothes
Informal business meetings in Vietnam like having meals, coffee chats, drinking, or having karaoke can help your business because they will tighten your relationship with partners. It is the norm in Vietnam that many important deals are made over a drink of local beers or coffee.
See What to Know When Drinking with A Vietnamese.
Having meals and drinking together as informal business meetings in Vietnam
Smart casual clothing is expected during these occasions. You may need to squad down at small tables and have a lot of delectable Vietnamese specialties, so wear something breathable. If you are traveling with dietary restrictions, don't hesitate to inform everybody as they would be glad to help you.
Sometimes it is more preferable to bring some gifts to the host team to show appreciation towards being invited to their meeting. The gifts need wrapping in bright color papers as black is a symbol of funerals in Vietnam. The ideal gifts for Vietnamese can be flowers, tea, and liquids. If you decide to include gifts as a small surprise for the meeting, you should pay attention to the rank and seniority order. For instance, the higher position attendants get bigger gifts than the others.
The hand gestures you use when calling someone to ask for support is regarded as the most polite business meeting tips in Vietnam. Summoning people with a curled finger is only done by the boss, but if done by someone with lower authority, this can be seen as a sign of disrespect. The proper hand’s language to summon a person when you are not the boss is to extend your arm with your palm down and curl your fingers repeatedly as if you are scratching something. In other ways, you just need to raise and wave your hand slightly to make a signal.
Unlike Western countries where people tend to be straightforward, the Vietnamese build relationships for business by giving face to each other. Instead of giving out a direct comment on something, they would like to discuss it with compliments and positive criticisms. Moreover, a huge respect towards higher seniority should be taken into account from the start of the Vietnamese meeting. Giving face is an appreciative custom that can be taken as the most important business meeting tips in Vietnam.
Gift-giving in a business meeting in Vietnam is optional
With the Vietnamese business etiquette and some business meeting tips in Vietnam, we hope that the information provided will help you to understand more about Vietnamese business customs. As a result, by applying those practices, it will be more favorable for you to adapt to Vietnamese business culture as well as to build a strong relationship and connection with the counterparts in Vietnam.
Check our site for more guides on other Vietnam travel information.
© Written by Linh Nguyen and Duy Trang for itourvn.com
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