before you go...
Learn some of the language...
Learn to greet your business host in his or her language.
A show of respect and consideration is always appreciated.
This means doing some basic homework with language tapes
before you travel. Listen to your cassettes in the car,
when you're enjoying a long walk or during the long plane
ride to your destination. With a little luck, you'll be
a star in time for your first international meeting.
Hotel rooms a no-no for meetings...
Whether you are working in India or in China, whether
you are staying in one room or a larger suite, make your
hotel room out of bounds to visitors. Always meet your
business contacts in the lobby of your hotel and avoid
giving out your room number. It's hard enough to have
some men respect the business acumen of a woman. You'll
improve your chances by being friendly but never familiar.
Learn the art of business cards...
Print your business cards in English on one side and in
the language of the host country on the other. Especially
in countries where women generally don't hold key corporate
positions, this will eliminate any misunderstanding about
the rank and position you hold within your profession.
Find out the correct way to give and receive business
cards. To show your respect for the person who has handed
you her's or his card, read it carefully before putting
it away. In China (including Hong Kong) and Japan, you're
expected to use both hands to give and receive a card.
However, in parts of the Middle East, you must never use
your left hand, as that hand is considered unclean.
Appropriate dress is most important...
Dress appropriately and modestly. If local women don't
wear trousers to the office, you shouldn't either. Wear
sensible shoes that allow you to stand for long periods
of time and to move quickly if necessary. Be culturally
correct and pay attention to the colour of your clothing.
For example, in Cambodia white is worn solely for mourning,
in Japan red is considered too provocative and in Malaysia
yellow is reserved for royalty.
Know your food etiquette...
Learn how to decline food graciously during business dinners
so that no one will be insulted. For instance, in Asia,
leave some food in your bowl. This suggests that your
hosts have fed you well and you're no longer hungry.
Business with men -- dinner
Understand that, in some countries, even if you do business
with men during the day, you may be seated separately,
with women only, for evening dining. Accept this situation
graciously as this is, of course, a wonderful opportunity.
You'll have this precious time to learn more about the
lives of women in the culture you are visiting and you'll
probably have great fun, too.
Expect flirting, decline flirting...
In certain cultures, businessmen may consider it acceptable
to proposition or to flirt with visiting businesswomen.
Don't be offended. Journeywoman suggests that a simple
and direct "no" is most appropriate.
The interesting customs of gift-giving...
What seems like a wonderful present in your hometown can
be considered dreadfully wrong in another culture. Before
offering gifts to your hosts, make sure that the type
of offering and even the colour of the wrapping paper
you use are culturally acceptable. In Chinese Brunei handkerchiefs
symbolize grief, in China clocks are associated with death,
in Japan gifts with large corporate logos are frowned
upon and when offering flowers in Taiwan be certain not
to give an odd number as that is considered unlucky. When
choosing wrapping paper in Vietnam red, purple, green
and blue are fine, in Singapore red is most acceptable,
however, black is to be avoided in all Asian countries
as it signifies death.
For your various airplane trips, don't wear jeans, sweats,
or other dumpy looks -- it's unprofessional and sets the
wrong tone with colleagues accompanying you, contacts
you may encounter on board, and the people who may be
meeting you when you arrive. For comfort on the plane
avoid clothing that binds your abdomen.
(Source: Do's and Taboos Around the World for Women