11 March 2020

Seven Golden Rules To Enhance Business Relations in the USA

It’s not long until you’ve got that important prospect meeting in the USA and, naturally, you want to make a good first impression. You’ve exchanged your travel money and remembered the correct adapter, but what else can you do ahead of your business meeting?

When hoping to establish strong business relations in the USA, there are a few rules to take into consideration if you want to make a good impression from the very beginning.

In this article, we’ve listed seven important practical tips to help start your American business partnership the right way.

Quiz: How much do you know about business etiquette around the world? 

7 practical rules to improve your American business partnership

1. ‘Time is money’ - be punctual

In the USA, efficiency and punctuality are crucial. The American business world is fast-paced and goal-driven, so any waste of time can be a frustration. Even when proposing your own ideas, it can be more effective to focus on fast, short-term results and less on long-term developments. Something as simple as arriving on time for an appointment indicates that you’re starting how you mean to go on while showing respect for your business partner from the outset.

2. On the subject of time… Be mindful of preferred business hours

When is your favourite time to hold a meeting? Around the world, preferred business hours and working practices can vary hugely. Across America, appointments very early in the morning and late in the evening can be the norm, so even if you’re on another continent, you may need to adjust to local US business hours to show willingness and keep relations strong.

3. No need for small talk; get straight to the point

Generally, your potential partners across the pond are friendly and polite, but they prefer business conversations that are clear and direct, with short, concise questions and answers. A hesitant, uncertain attitude can be perceived as unreliable, so when it comes to presenting your product or service, don’t waste too many words and limit yourself instead to the most important things. Compliments are always a nice welcome if you want to build your American business partnership. 

4. Avoid physical contact where necessary

Greetings that involve physical contact such as hugs or kisses on the cheek aren’t common in American business; a firm and assured handshake is more than enough. It’s also advisable to maintain within a respectable distance from your conversation partner so as not to give the impression of invading their space. Nevertheless, personal relationships and a good organisational environment are important to Americans. For this reason, lunches, dinners, and informal occasions for meetings and team-building with colleagues are advisable.

Is your business meeting in New York? We have a great place for you and your team to dine at!

5. Dress to impress

Doing business in the USA can mean having to meet with potential customers several times. As far as the choice of clothes is concerned, it’s usually better to dress formally and elegantly, without showing off too much skin. A good way to understand the best form of clothing is to look at the company website or social media, see what other people wear, or simply ask beforehand. 

Top dress code tip: Wherever in the world you’re preparing to do business, mirroring the dress code of the people you’re meeting is a great rule of thumb. You’ll be dressed for the occasion, you’ll feel confident that you’re dressed appropriately, and you’ll look right at home.

6. Hit the green and learn golf

Okay, this isn’t a necessity, but it certainly helps. Our American friends love to talk about golf (or other sports), and it’s not unusual to be invited to play a few rounds while discussing contractual or business matters. In fact, 90% of Fortune 500 CEOs play golf, while statistics suggest that executives who hit the green make an average of 17% more than those who don’t. How’s that swing coming along?

7. Bring plenty of business cards

The exchange of contact details usually takes place when a later meeting is planned. Even in times where most things are digitalised, business cards are almost always accepted in many places, but sometimes your card is pocketed without being looked at and you’re not offered a card in return. This is normal and completely acceptable behaviour, so don’t see it as a negative.

READ: Three Tips to Improve Your Business Travel Etiquette and Strengthen Your International Partnerships.

Enhance your business relations in the USA

When it comes to forging business partnerships across the world, it’s important to make a good first impression and show that you’ve prepared and appreciated their business etiquette. 

So, from adhering to the correct dress and arriving on time for all meetings, to limiting physical contact and even playing golf, you can create that great first impression and be well on your way to building your American business partnership.

Are you hoping to forge new business contacts from other parts of the globe? Wherever your business meeting, it’s vital to learn about their work etiquette. Why not have a go at our quiz below and start your partnership the right way?

In which country should you always accept tea or coffee when your business host offers it?