Expatify

Travel & Expat Lifestyle Magazine

Learning the Business Customs of Vietnam

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When trying to schedule a meeting in Vietnam, the best way to do this is through a local representative. If you do not speak Vietnamese, this local representative should act as a translator between both parties. If you are unable to be introduced through a third party, you should tell your colleagues the story of what led you to your place in your company and why you are now in Vietnam.

You should dress conservatively at meetings. You should also arrive on time, as punctuality is important.

People give handshakes during introductions and departures. Only people of the same sex should shake hands with each other. Some people practice the two-handed handshake, by placing the left hand on top of the right wrist. You should wait for women to extend their hands, and if they do not, you should bow your head.

As for business cards, they are given after initial introductions. You should have one side translated into Vietnamese to be polite. You should also present your business card with both hands. When someone gives you their business card, make sure to examine it instead of just glancing over it.

A hierarchy does exist within the Vietnamese business world. The eldest or most important person in a company will usually enter the room first. People in Vietnam also prefer to do business with people they know and have developed a relationship. Take time to get to know your colleagues, as this is important in building the relationship.

As Vietnamese society stresses the concept of face, people will remain silent with others when they disagree with what is being said. They are not supposed to call people out in front of others, as embarrassment is a big deal and people will lose face.

While negotiating, be aware that what people say is taken very seriously. Do not say something that you will not back up or make empty promises, as this will reflect upon you poorly. Decisions are reached at a very slow pace, so be patient in this process.

It is also custom to exchange small gifts after conducting meetings in Vietnam. They should be simple and not very expensive. Something usual from your home country, or something small with your company’s name on it make fine gifts.

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