Monday, July 03, 2017
Today we will give practical advice on business life and business trips. What I write here is not told in schools, you learn in time by doing it in business life. It may not be all correct. If you have a business, sales, partnership, cooperation meeting in another city, do not plan to go back on the same day and return on the same day.
If you go back and forth in the same day, this means that for the opposite party. Your company is financially unable to pay your simple travel and hotel expenses. You are a new, unauthorized, insignificant employee. You do not care about us because you do not give us 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 scale, do not spend the night at night, do not drink alcohol in the evening, get up early in the morning, get up early in the morning, make a good solid breakfast.
Wear clean and serious, wear sport for factory and construction site, but dark suit for urban office meetings, tie for ladies, tie for men is a must.
If possible, walk or with the easiest means of transportation and at least 15 minutes before the meeting. Ask for a 10:00 AM meeting. The day is long, you can go on to the topic after lunch. If you start at 02:00 PM after lunch, there will be no time to talk detail. Meetings after 04:00 PM will not be fruitful ends quickly.
Travel is a good opportunity for you to present your company, and learn their company. Are they experienced and reliable? Can they finish your work on time? Can they pay? How is their attitude to their employees? How is their business environment? Is it an old, established, reliable, serious institution? Or is it a new company that has grown rapidly with the chance of taking extreme risks?
From the attitude of the security guard at the gate, from the face of the tea servers, from the air of the working environment, from work intensity, you will immediately understand all of this.
Look at the security system. I can understand the hard security measures at the entrance doors of public offices, embassies in modern times, but it is difficult to understand the 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, department chiefs should not occupy overly large working areas. Working people should not be controlled by cameras. Cameras should be in 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 cold water. Your hands should not be dirty, sweaty when you shake hands. Ask for simple tea to drink. If they do not have tea, you can get Turkish coffee. Do not eat any cake. Your hands may become dirty.
At lunch time, ask for a light workplace meal. Do not go outside. Avoid long lunches. Keep evening meals short on invitations. Speak on popular sports, football, literature, music, wine, opera, rock during lunch conversations. Do not go into religious and political matters.
Do not be late for the meeting. Those who leave early in the morning, are not doing right. Traffic stress in the morning, then airplane stress, stress after arrival at the meeting place, stress to catch the return plane, all prevents 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. You may also ask their linkedin page for brief introduction.
Gather information about the other party. Study their internet web pages carefully, learn their organization structure, and have advance knowledge about the work they do.
Bring your company's promotional documentations, promotional CD, your business card. Do not bring your laptop computer unless it is deemed necessary. If you bring your laptop, do not run your laptop in the meeting if it is not necessary. Turn off your mobile phone or at least bring it to silence mode.
If you are going to make a present ion, 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 gifts. It's usually misunderstood. Expensive gifts may decrease the value of your bid. Documents you bring, Demo CD's are a gifts. If they give you a gift at the end of the meeting, do not hurry to give them your gift. Give them an equivalent value gift when they visit you.This gift can be a new book about the technical issue or about your country. Far Easterners give a good quality tea as gift.
Do not communicate individually with the other side of the table. Do not give personal details. 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 to report in the next meeting, or let them know you will respond them in writing. Keep up the length of the meeting as scheduled.
Do not tell them your return day-time to 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, they relax till the last minute to pressure you to agree on their own terms.
Be comfortable. Stay on Saturday and Sunday if necessary and tell them you will work for them. Nobody wants to sacrifice on Saturday, Sunday. On Friday afternoon, you agree on everything up before weekend.
Going and returning on the same day is a sign of inexperience. An experienced 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 your management for a "business-class" air ticket. If they don't, 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 make joke, do not laugh, answer the questions correctly, short. Do not talk to your cell phone in front of the passport police.
Where will you stay? How much cash do you have with you? Why did you come? These questions will always be asked.
If you tell them, "I'm sleeping in the park, my return date is uncertain", they can send back by plane or you will be interned or 1-2 hours.
No matter how famous, rich, important you are in your country, these are not important in front of other country's passport police. They do not have to accept you into their country.
Follow your rules. Give clear answer to the questions, and go back to your country when you are done.
When your meetings are completed in that city, in that country, return your home immediately. THY provides early flights. They may send you home early by plane.
If you wish to have sightseeing, make it in another time with your own money. Write the minutes of the meeting about your meeting/ interview on paper as simple notes. Do not work with the laptop on the road.
Do not drive the car at night. Do not drive car abroad. There are other traffic rules everywhere. You can not drive cars in Germany with the rules of Turkey, you get ticket, fined heavily.
Our hard, hasty, fast drive 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 as you wish. You can not speed. The traffic police's punishment is huge.
There are countries without rules, it is impossible for us to drive there.
You may use public transport, underground, or 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 personal preferences. These rules are formed over time. Your style may be different. If you write to me your recommendations of your own business travel experience, I would be very happy.
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), 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 ODTÜ Alumni and Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.
This article is written for the "EurasiaReview" news web site.
Ankara, 4 July 2017