The guide to business etiquette around the world

The guide to business etiquette around the world

Business etiquette might seem simple but you’ll find yourself adapting your ways around the world. Here’s a quick guide on how to behave at your next meeting…

Business etiquette can be a rusty subject for many of us who have worked in the same industry for some time. We get into bad habits and these can really affect how people perceive us when it comes to business meetings and networking events.

Here is our quick guide featuring business etiquette tips for around the world, to avoid any awkward encounters:


Considered THE place to shake hands when it comes to business, it’s important that you know the etiquette when doing deals in the country. Respect is a huge factor in Chinese society, with elders and rankings being treated with the utmost courtesy. Here are some further things to bear in mind:

  • Present your business card with both hands and share it as soon as you meet.
  • Set up an interpreter if your hosts cannot speak English well. Do not expect them to fumble through with your language if you are doing business in their country.
  • Always find out the most important person in the room and address them first.
  • Modesty is an important part of business in China. Never accept a gift from a host too quickly, always refuse at first, and don’t talk about yourself too much.
  • Don’t let go of a handshake too soon but also try not to be too aggressive with your shake.


India is a powerhouse when it comes to business, now recognised as a newly emerging and growing country. Here are a few business etiquette tips should you be visiting the country soon:

  •  Greet your hosts with a handshake but you might also find they greet you with Namaste, where the palms are brought together at the chest and the head is bowed slightly.
  •  Names are important in India and usually indicate a person’s background but you should always use a formal title – even if you know them personally – until you are told not to.
  •  Exchange business cards at the start of the meeting – give and receive cards with your right hand only – and have one side translated into your host’s language.


The USA is a much more casual place to do business, where you won’t be met with such strict rules or expectations. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Use first names when talking and introduce yourself and any associates straight away.
  • Handshakes are important and you will be judged on how firm yours is.
  • Americans enjoy the phrase ‘time is money’, so ensure you are at meetings on time and properly prepared.
  • When it comes to business cards, much like the UK it’s believed to be a little forward if you thrust your card at someone on a first meeting. Wait until the end and exchange cards when wrapping things up.

Now you know the basics when it comes to doing business in the top three countries to target, you should be shaking hands and sealing deals in no time!