Do you want to do business in the United States? Read the few practical tips below.
Business culture- Presentation
- The North-American people usually have a smooth and jovial way of doing business. It is coming to switch to a more informal approach (like using first names) early in a conversation.
- The saying ‘time is money’ is taken very literal in North-America. Don’t be to wordy and come to the point. We recommend you to prepare an ‘elevator pitch’ (pitching your company and your products in 1 or 2 minutes in a very clear an enthusiastic way).
- Be clear, ‘tell it like it is’: Indirect or vague answers can be seen as insincerity and distrust.
- Humor is very important, but avoid jokes about sensitive subjects like religion, politics or ethnicity.
- Despite the relaxed and jovial attitude, the US business partners are very phlegmatic and pragmatic. They feel at ease in conflict situations with an attitude of ‘take it or leave it’.
- American entrepreneurs are usually dressed in a very formal way. We recommend for both men and women to wear a suit.
- Face-to- face meetings are an important part of doing business in the United States.
- Confirm appointments always one day prior to the meeting and be on time, preferable a little bit too early. American are punctual and meticulous. Don’t show up unannounced.
- Punctuality is also an absolute must when it comes to delivering goods or services. When there’s a delay, invoking force majeure is often not appreciated as an excuse.
- Voicemail is often used as a filter in the United States, which often results in the fact that no-one is responding to your call. Practice on leaving a powerful message behind on voicemail.
- Don’t make any appointments which can possible threaten the time off from your American partner.
- In the US, corporate breakfasts and lunches are important to get connected and for the closure of deals.
- Commitment will be formalized in great detail in official contracts. All financial agreements will be captured on a regular basis in detailed, binding contracts, drafted by specialized lawyers.
- It is very common to exchange business cards. Use if possible business cards printed om the smaller format according to American standards and pay attention to design and titles.
- The usage of formal titles is common, but it is not wisely to use Dutch titles like drs., mr. of ing. On your business card. With the exception for the title of Ph.D. master degree titles are not mentioned on the business card, only business titles.
- Education tells something about your competences, but in the US it is all about what you have achieved, who you know and how you have achieved it (by yourself).
- Mention you first name on your business card, not just your initial. You’ll use initials for (a) middle name(s). After that you can mention your last name.
- American-English is different from British- English. Be prepared for misunderstandings and try to avoid them.
- In the presence of Americans, always use the English language, also when you ‘just have a little conversation’ with fellow Dutchmen.
- When you use temperatures or sizes in documents, always use American inches, feet and Fahrenheit, so don’t use the metrical system.
- Make sure your website is accessible in the American-English language. Do not only use a Union Jack as a languages button, but also the Stars and Stripes.