Spectacular economic growth from the explosion of offshore outsourcing and manufacturing in India has created immense opportunities for investment and international commerce. With a huge population of highly skilled and motivated English-speaking graduates, India offers the international business world much more than just financial incentives.
Indian people place a very high value on relationships and will expect to spend time building trust and respect with new partners before doing business. Indians tend to feel most comfortable working with those they know and trust, so it is essential that you invest time in developing solid professional and personal relationships when doing business in India.
India is a nation of contrasts, with enormous geographic, linguistic, religious and cultural diversity. You will encounter some differences depending on where your Indian counterparts are located but the following tips will help you ensure that you maximise your opportunities for doing business in India.
- Take time to make friendly small talk at the start of a meeting. Asking questions about your counterparts’ families is a good way to build rapport and establish trust.
- Use the appropriate title when addressing your Indian colleagues.
- Business meetings usually start with a handshake but avoid shaking the hand of female colleagues unless initiated by them.
- Remember that ‘yes’ may not always mean ‘yes’. Indians tend to avoid saying ‘no’ as it can cause them to lose face.
- Try to avoid expressing disagreement directly as this can also cause loss of face.
- Be patient. Business often takes longer in India but do your best not to show frustration or anger.
- Be aware that India is home to many different religions, all of which may impact business in slightly different ways.
- When entertaining, bear in mind that most Indians are traditionally vegetarian and do not drink alcohol.
- Small gifts from your own culture are always appreciated but it is advisable not to give expensive gifts.
- Do your research ahead of time. India is an immense country with many cultural differences from north to south. Read about where your counterparts come from to understand more about their background, traditions and customs.
Considering and respecting the top tips for doing business in India above is the first step towards building effective relationships with your Indian counterparts. Participating in a cross cultural awareness training course such as Doing Business in India will give you a deeper insight to the cultural differences you may find in India and the ability to anticipate and manage them effectively.
© Communicaid Group Ltd. 2011