Tips For Doing Business In A Foreign Country

As you jet off to a new country you’re leaving behind what you’re used to and entering a new place where language and social customs differ. Positive relationships are vital to any successful business transaction. So we’ve put together some helpful tips and tools to help you impress (or at least, not offend) your foreign business contacts.


1. Walk the walk

Brush up on the local social customs of the place you’re visiting to avoid accidentally offending those you’re doing business with.

Save the kisses and hugs for European countries, in China shaking hands is preferred.


Don’t eat with your hands, even if it’s a sandwich or pizza. Use a napkin or other utensil.

New Zealand

Dinners are reserved for social interactions. Only discuss business over lunch.


Avoid saying “no” during business discussions, as it’s considered rude. Opt for terms such as “we’ll see,” “I will try,” or “possibly”.


Always allow someone to pour a drink for you, never pour one for yourself.

View more international business etiquette tips.


2. Talk the talk

Load up your smartphone with these apps to help you speak and translate the native language.


We get that learning a whole new language can be daunting which is why we love this app. The lessons are quick enough that you can learn while on your coffee break or during your commute. It’s also positioned as a game so it’s much more stimulating than sitting in a classroom.

If you prefer being able to get by with the help of translation apps, these are our favorites:

Google Translate

Can’t read a menu? No problem, take a photo of it and Google will translate it for you. This visual translation is currently available in 29 languages including French, Italian and Russian. Voice translations and text translations are also available.

Translate voice

This is the best app for keeping up with translating conversations when you don’t have the time to type it out. Simply say the phrase and play the translation for your colleague.


iTranslate is one of the most accurate apps for text translations. It can translate more than 90 languages.

If you want technology of the future and willing to pay for it, you can get earpieces that will instantly translate while someone is speaking to you without interruption. Both the Pilot and Mymanu CLIK are wireless earpieces you can pre-order for your next trip.


3. Get a local number

If you’re going to be in the country for a longer period of time or frequently visiting, you should consider getting a local number. Not only are they inexpensive, they will make the lives of your colleagues easier as they won’t have to pay long distance fees while trying to reach you. KnowRoaming offers local numbers in 49 countries. View the full list here.


If you have any apps or tips you swear by when traveling for business, share them with us in the comments!