Business dos and don'ts in the United States

Rvo,  Saturday, 14 October 2017

Street 
sign New York 

Do you want to do business in the United States? Read the practical tips below.

Corporate culture / Presentation

  • The Americans have a smooth and jovial way of doing business. During a conversation, you quickly use each other's first name.
  • Americans take the saying 'time is money' literally. Therefore, come to the point as soon as possible. A reasonable control of the elevator pitch (1 or 2 minutes to bring your company and products to the fore in a razor sharp and enthusiastic way) is recommended.
  • Speak clear language. Indirect or vague answers can be interpreted as a sign of dishonesty or mistrust. 'Tell it like it is' is a commonly used statement.
  • Humour is essential, but don't make jokes about sensitive issues such as religion, politics, and race.
  • Despite the relaxed and jovial attitude, American partners are very sober and businesslike. They feel comfortable in conflict situations:' take it or leave it.'
  • American entrepreneurs are often dressed up formally. A suit for men and a suit for women is recommended.

  • Appointments

  • Face-to-face meetings are an important part of doing business in the United States.
  • Always confirm appointments the day in advance and arrive on time or preferably a little too early. Americans are punctual and meticulous. Do not come unannounced.
  • Punctuality is also an absolute must for deliveries. In the event of a delay, recourse to force majeure is often considered an unacceptable excuse.
  • In the United States, Voicemail is often used as a filter, usually without calling back. Practice leaving a short and powerful message.
  • Do not make any arrangements that could endanger your American partner's free time.
  • In America, working breakfast and lunch are important for social contacts and the completion of business.
  • Commitments are set out in very formal and detailed contracts. All financial agreements are routinely laid down in explicit, binding contracts drawn up by specialized lawyers.

  • Business cards

  • The exchange of business cards is widespread. If possible, use business cards on the smaller American format and pay attention to the design and titles.
  • Business titles are standard, but it is not wise to mention foreign titles as drs. or ing. on the business card. Except Ph. D. cards usually do not show university titles, but do mention business titles.
  • Training says something about your competences, but in the US it is mainly about what you have done, where and with whom you have worked and whether you have achieved it yourself.
  • Place your first name on a business card, not just your initiator. For a second or third name, please use initials. Then your surname follows.

  • Language

  • American-English differs from British English in many respects. Be prepared for misunderstandings and try to avoid them.
  • Always speak in English in the presence of Americans, even if you communicate with other foreigners.
  • When specifying dimensions and temperatures in documentation material, Americans use inches, feet, and Fahrenheit, so do not use the metric system.
  • Provide a website in good English/American. Put not only a Union Jack but also a Stars and Stripes on the language selection button.

  • This article of is based on . Translated from the Dutch language by Jos Deuling.


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