Some quick dot points for those doing business in Vietnam:
- Appointments are required and should be made several weeks in advance.
- The best means of doing so is through a local representative who can act as a reference and also translator/interpreter.
- Vietnamese are punctual and expect others to be so to.
- Dress conservatively.
- Handshakes are used upon meeting and departing. Handshakes only usually take place between members of the same sex.
- Some Vietnamese use a two-handed shake, with the left hand on top of the right wrist.
- Always wait for a woman to extend her hand. If she does not, bow your head slightly.
- Business cards are exchanged on initial meetings and should be presented with both hands. When receiving business cards ensure you show proper respect to it and do not simply glance at it and put it on the table.
- Hierarchy and face manifest in different ways within business meetings. For example, the most senior person should always enter the room first.
- Silence is also common in meetings where someone disagrees with another but remains quiet so as to not cause a loss of face.
- Relationships are critical to successful business partnerships. Always invest time in building a good relationship based on both personal and business lines. Any initial meeting should be solely used as a “getting to know you” meeting.
- The spoken word is very important. Never make promises that you cannot keep to as this will lead to a loss of face.
- Negotiations can be slow so it is important to bear in mind that decisions have to go through a lot of red tape and also group consultation. Be patient.
- Business gift giving is fairly common at the end of a meeting or during a meal in honor of your business associates. Gifts should be small but not expensive. Something with your company logo or something typical from your country both makes excellent gifts.