ISSN 2330-717X

Recommendations For International Business Travelers – OpEd

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Today we will give practical advice on business life and business trips. What I write here is not told in schools, you can only learn in time by doing it in business life. All may not be correct anyway.

If you have a business, sales, partnership, cooperation meeting in another city, do not plan to return your home city on the same day. If you go back and forth on the same day, this means following for the opposite party. Your company is financially unable to pay your simple hotel expenses. You are an unauthorized, insignificant newcomer employee. You do not care about us because you do not give us sufficient time.

Go to that city / country before the day before, stay in a clean and reasonably priced hotel close to the meeting place, keep your travel expenses at reasonable figures, do not spend the night outside, do not drink alcohol in the evening, get up early in the morning, make a good sound breakfast.

Wear clean and serious, wear sporty for factory and construction site, but choose dark suit for urban office meetings, neck tie for men is a must.

If possible, walk or take the easiest means of transportation and arrive there at least 15 minutes before the meeting. Always ask for a 10:00 am meeting. The day is long, you can go details on to the topic after lunch. If you start at 2:00 pm after lunch, there will be no time to talk on detail. Meetings after 16:00 will not be fruitful which ends quickly.

Travel is a good opportunity for you to present your company. Are they experienced and reliable? Can they finish work on time? Can they deliver on time? How is their attitude to their employees? How is the business environment in their office? Is it an old company or a serious reliable institution? Or is it a new company that has grown rapidly by taking extreme risk?

From the attitude of the security guard at the door, from the face of the tea served, from the working environment, from work intensity, you will immediately understand all of your expectations.

Look at the security system at the gate. I can understand the tough security measures at the entrance doors of public offices, embassies in modern times, these are normal.

However, I cannot understand more exaggerated, often unnecessary 3-4 step security systems of private companies.

I think that a good workplace should be an open office, employees should not be confined to cubicles, bosses should not occupy overly large working areas, people should not be controlled by cameras other than critical places (entry gate, cashier-teller). These are all important indicators.

Be sure to go to the toilet before the meeting, check your appearance, comb your hair, wash your hands thoroughly with fresh cold water. Your hands should not be dirty, sweaty when you shake hands. Ask simple unsweetened tea. If they do not have tea, you can get coffee. Do not take dry cake, your hands may become dirty, when you eat.

Ask for a light workplace company lunch. Do not go outside. Avoid long lunches, keep evening meals short on invitations. Speak sports, literature, music, wine, opera, rock in food. Do not go into religious and political matters.

Do not be late for the meetings. Always be punctual. Those who leave home early in the morning, are not doing right. There is always Traffic stress in the morning, they we have airplane flight stress, stress after arrival at the meeting place, stress on the returning plane, all preventing you from doing your job properly.

Make sure you agree on a draft agenda before the meeting, send your resume if you meet strangers, ask them for their resume.

Gather information about the other party, study the internet web pages carefully, learn the organization structure, and have advance knowledge about the work they do.

Bring your company’s promotional document, promotional CD, lots of business card. Do not bring a laptop computer unless you have a very important need. Even if you bring your laptop pc, do not operate it unnecessarily during the meeting. Turn off your mobile phone, never accept any phone call.

If you are going to make a ppt presentation, take the presentation to the USB memory stick, present on their PCs, and leave the presentation on the desktop as pdf. Do not bring a presentation with confidential information that you can not leave there at all.

Do not give an expensive gift. It’s always misunderstood. Decreases the value of your bid. Documents you present, Demo CD’s are a gift. If they give you a gift at the end of the meeting, do not hurry to give a counter gift. Give them an equivalent gift when they visit you.This gift can be a new book about the technical issue or about Your country heritage. Far Eastern business people usually give a good quality tea gift.

Do not communicate individually with the other side of the table, be sincere, do not give personal details, do not speak a language which other party can not understand.
Explain everything by speaking simple words, do not make any hand gesture. A hand gesture that you use in Your home country for “very good” may mean “very bad” or even “obscene” in another country.

Do not go outside the agenda. Do not respond to new requests immediately, ask them to report to the next meeting, or let them know you will respond them in writing. Keep up the length of the meeting, you arrive to their office, you come from a distant environment, you spend your time your money for them, leave the conversation of the meeting to their wish.

Do not say your return day-time, do not tell the other side of the table, especially when you are abroad (German-Japanese-USA). They want to know immediately when you will return at the beginning of the meeting. After learning your departure day and time, they will take everything not so seriously, they do not enter the meeting, they try to tighten your requests to the last hour, forces.

Be comfortable, stay on Saturday and Sunday if necessary and tell them you will work at weekend for them. None of them wants to sacrifice to spend on Saturday, Sunday. On Friday afternoon, you agree on everything up before the holidays.

Going around and returning is a sign of inexperience, a seasoned business man gives himself time. Short-haul 2-3 hour flights are not important. But if you travel long distances, beyond the ocean, or beyond the continents, ask for a “business-class” flight ticket, if your management cannot efforf to buy business class, then do not stay there, do not work there, they do not worth it.

When you go to a foreign country, be serious when you pass passport control. Do not joke, do not laugh, answer the questions clearly, in correct, short, sensible and be calm no matter how insignificant they are. Do not talk to your cell phone in front of the passport police.

They will ask where you will stay and when you plan to return. How much cash do you have with you? Why did you come? These questions will always be asked.

“I’m sleeping in the park, and I will return on uncertain day”, then you will be sent back by plane immediately, or you will be interned for 1-2 hours.

No matter how famous, rich, important you are in a foreign country, there is nothing important for other country’s passport police in front of you. They do not have to accept you into their countries.

Follow the rules, give a clear answer to the questions, and return to your country when you are done. When you finish your meeting, leave that city or country as soon as possible. Turkish Airlines, THY provides early flight, please ask if they will send you home early by plane. If you wish to go sightseeing, take another time with your own money. Write the minutes of the meeting about your interview on paper as simple notes on paper. Do not mess with the laptop on the road.

Do not drive the car at night in a foreign country. Do not drive car abroad, there are different traffic rules everywhere, you can not use cars in Germany with the rules of Turkey, you are punished, pay unnecessary ticket.

Our hard, hasty, fast driving is very costly to you in America.

Their intersection protocol, highway lane changing rules, parking rules, maximum speed limits are different from ours. You can not change lanes. You can not speed. The traffic police’s punishment is terrible.

There are countries without rules, where it is impossible for us to drive already there.

You better take public transport, taxis. Do not take risks. After returning home, do not go to work the next day unless you must.

I do not say that what I write here is absolutely true. These are all my humble personal preferences. These rules are formed over time. Your style may be different. If you write to me your recommendations of your own travel experience, I would be very happy.


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Haluk Direskeneli

Haluk Direskeneli

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP, Entergy), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

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