Category Archives: Travel Abroad

Global Business Card Etiquette

By Guest Blog Post Author David Grebow on behalf of VistaPrint.com

Using a business card correctly in a global economy takes some knowledge about the way other cultures use their cards. Here’s a short primer on business card do’s and don’ts

Doing business in a flat world means you will be doing business with people from other countries. Whether you are traveling to a meeting in another country, or the people from another country are coming to meet with you in the U.S., etiquette is etiquette. It is important to show that you know the proper way things are done in their country.

As it happens everywhere, the meeting usually begins with the passing of the business cards. I said usually, but we’ll get to that. First, the general rules of playing international business cards.

In most countries, with the exceptions being North America and Western Europe, the exchange of business cards is a ceremony of great importance. Let’s begin with some general tips.

The current universal standard has not changed in many years. The business card still needs to include the name of the person, the company name, a company logo, if applicable, and the relevant contact information, including:

  • Street address
  • Postal code
  • Country
  • Telephone and fax numbers with country codes, and
  • Email addresses

Traditionally, black ink is used on white card stock. The typeface, usually serif, should be legible and professional-looking. The international standard for card size is 85.60 x 53.98 mm (3.370 x 2.125 inches).
Business cards are an internationally recognized means of remembering who was at the meeting. Make sure you have enough clean cards and that they contain the most up-to-date contact information.

Here are more tips on the card exchange:

  • When you are presented with a business card from anyone, make a point of looking at it and asking any questions you might have about the information printed on it. Do not just slip it into your pocket.
  • Business cards are generally exchanged at the beginning of the first meeting and not at any followup meeting unless new people are in the room, and then only they exchange business cards.
  • Do not carry your cards loose in your pockets or allow them to become bent or dirty. Invest in a small, discreet card case.
  • Never write on your card or on any card you receive unless directed to do so.
  • In North America and most of Europe, it is acceptable to have a simple statement or selling point about your business or service. However, it’s not such a good idea when presenting the card outside those geographical regions.

A few words about words. It is good etiquette for any meeting with businesspeople from another country to also print your contact information in their language on the back of the card. It is also good business etiquette to present the card so the recipient’s language is face up and facing them so they can read it as you hand it to them.

Hire a professional translator or agency and make sure your title indicates your position in the company hierarchy. Also make sure the correct dialect is used, and that any cultural nuances are observed. For instance, foreign translations of business cards for use in China are often printed with gold ink, which is considered auspicious.

Now for the fun part: Other countries and other business-card presentation etiquette. Here are a few of the key tips to remember:

Japan:

  • Business cards are considered an extension of your business and are exchanged with great ceremony. (That’s why this list of proper etiquette is so long.)
  • Invest in quality cards using a better card stock than you would normally choose.
  • Always keep your business cards in pristine condition.
  • Treat the business card you receive with great respect.
  • Make sure your business card includes your title since the Japanese place emphasis on status and hierarchy.
  • Business cards are always received with the right language facing the receiver using two hands holding the card by the corners.
  • When receiving a card, bow out of respect and read the card as if to memorize the name and title so you can match it to the person later.
  • If you are presenting cards to more than one person start with the highest ranking individual and move down according to the protocol of rank.
  • Never present a business card during a meal.
  • During a meeting, place the business cards on the table in front of you in the order people are seated.
  • When the meeting is over, put the business cards in a card case or a portfolio, not in your pocket.

China:

  • Have one side of your business card translated into Cantonese or Mandarin and printed in gold ink.
  • Your business card should include your title.
  • If your company is the oldest or largest in your country, that fact should be highlighted on your card.
  • Same basic presentation rules listed above for Japan also apply to China. Hold the card in both hands when offering it and bow, and carefully read the card when you are on the receiving end.
  • Present your card before you ask for one from the recipient.
  • Never write on someone else’s card unless so directed, since it is considered a sign of disrespect.

India:

  • If you have a university degree or any honor, put it on your business card.
  • Always use your right hand to give and receive business cards. Note: This practice should be followed with businesspeople from any Islamic country as well as from many parts of Africa.
  • Business cards need not be translated into Hindi as English is widely spoken within the business community.
  • In India, business cards are exchanged even in non-business situations, generally after the initial handshake and greeting.
  • Always present the card in a way that the recipient may read the text as the card is being handed to them.

Korea:

  • When you receive a business card from a Korean, simply nod your head as a gesture of respect and thank the person for the opportunity to meet with them. No need to bow.
  • Unlike in other Asian countries, it is appropriate to put the card away immediately in a simple card holder. Looking at the card too long is regarded as ignorant and impolite.
  • It is preferred that you present your card to a person before asking for their card.
  • Again, present your card with both hands, Korean text side up, text facing toward the recipient, and give a gentle nod of the head. The nodding of the head is especially important when meeting with individuals senior to you.

Brazil:

  • Language, again, is important. When you conduct business with a Brazilian, have business cards printed one side in English and the other in Portuguese.
  • Distribute these to everyone present when they arrive, making sure the Portuguese text is facing up.
  • If you arrive first, present your cards right away.

Here are a few general rules for other countries, as well:

  • In Iran, only senior-level individuals exchange business cards.
  • In other Arabic nations, like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, cards are given to everyone you meet.
  • In Hungary, on the translated side, your surname should precede your given name.
  • In Spain and Turkey, the business card should be presented to the receptionist upon arrival.

As you can tell, every country has its own way of conducting business and its own business card etiquette. Make sure, aside from learning the above rules, that you talk with someone who does business with the country you want to learn more about. Use the library or go online. Contact the Department of State or the country’s embassy. What you do — or do not do — will set the tone for your entire meeting.

For more information, visit: http://www.ats-sea.agr.gc.ca/exp/3754-eng.htm#g.

Guest Blog Post Author

David Grebow is a freelance business journalist who writes for Vistaprint, a global leader in marketing products and services for small businesses. David is a writer, editor, and author of many books, including “A Compass for the Knowledge Economy.” He holds an MBA from Harvard, and his work has been published in Harvard Business Review and The Economist.

Disclaimer:  This site does not compensate its guest bloggers for their posts. The opinions expressed in the guest posts are those of the authors and do not reflect the opinions of iBasis.  In addition, iBasis does not review the posts for factual accuracy and therefore does not vouch for the accuracy of any facts contained in this guest post.

5 Questions from a World Nomad Traveler to an Expat Living in Colombia

Guest Post Interview of Jasmine Stephenson an expat living in Colombia and former World nomad traveler.

1st Question:

So your 27 and you went from Living in Florida to traveling the world. What inspired you to sell all your stuff and make that leap of faith to migrate to a new country not once but twice?

I just wanted something different for my life. I wanted to define my own version of success, live the way I wanted to, see other cultures, learn, explore.

2nd Question

You’ve lived abroad as a Nomad to Expat for over 4 years. How long & often do you call home to stay connected to friends and family from when you first left to New Zealand to now in Colombia?

I catch up with my family once every week or two.

3rd Question:

What would you say to inspire a Pingo customer to take this giant leap to becoming an Expat and/or Nomad to experience a life travel adventure?

Like Nike says, Just do it!

4th Question:

Can you share a culture shock experience while living abroad or perception experience of Americans?

I’ve had a few of those… probably the most laughable one was when I got blamed personally for causing the global financial crisis.

5th Question:

What advice would you give to someone considering being an Expat in Colombia?

I’d say that if you want to move to Colombia, don’t listen to the news. What you see on TV is very different from the daily reality that we live in here. Learn Spanish (at least the basics), talk to others who live here, and come visit. Find out why more people now than ever before are learning the truth behind the tourism slogan, “The only risk is wanting to stay.”

Expat Living in Colombia

Advice From an Expat Living in Colombia

Guest Interview Post Author Bio:

Jasmine Stephenson is a travel blogger who left her home in 2007 to live life on her own terms. She is currently living in Medellin, Colombia. Catch up with her on Facebook and Twitter.

How to Buy Temporary Disposable Cell Phones to Make International Calls While Traveling Abroad

We all need a good holiday every once in a while in order to relieve stress and have a good time. When we travel abroad we inevitably have to plan and organize our trip, as well as make sure that we have everything we need while we’re away. Naturally, a cell phone is indispensable in this regard, but few people realize how temporary disposable cell phones are more advantageous in this context than standard cell phones.

Indeed, temporary disposable cell phones are nowadays a much-requested gadget for most traveling enthusiasts. While some people might decide to stick to normal cell phones, one cannot deny that the latter carry some inherent disadvantages while abroad. Generally, the primary concern is the fact that people tend to shell out a lot of cash on their mobile phones, and while abroad it is highly possible that they may lose it, misplace it, or even have it stolen. Traveling shouldn’t be about being overly-anxious and concerned about losing your phone, but about enjoying yourself.

Disposable phones are perfectly suited for travelers

Temporary disposable cell phones are perfectly suited for travelers since they are essentially simple, lightweight and cheap gadgets which are intended for short-term use. You need not worry about losing it or breaking it, since they are extremely cheap and are made of durable plastic and rubber. They only serve one function, and that is to make and receive calls while you’re abroad. Since they lack most of an advanced phone’s functions, they provide a very good battery life which is essential when you are on the go.

Getting disposable cell phones to make international calls is very straightforward. Most tourist shops are readily stocked with these phones since their surge in popularity has made them quite profitable. Typically, airport outlets also sell such phones, so you can get one right as you arrive at your destination. Another alternative is phone shops, which would generally sell temporary cell phones as well.

Prepaid International Calling Service

Making cheap international calls while traveling is now also possible thanks to Pingo. This is a prepaid international calling service which may be accessed through the Pingo.com web interface. The latter is extremely simple and user-friendly, so there really is nothing to worry about. Pingo is a service offered by iBasis a KPN Company, which is hailed as one of the world’s best international long-distance carriers.

Using Pingo to make international calls while abroad is very straightforward and convenient. Easy step-by-step instructions are available online at Pingo.com, and a stellar customer service ensures that any difficulty you may have will be resolved quickly and effectively.

Combining temporary disposable cell phones and a convenient service such as Pingo is a perfect recipe for peace of mind while traveling. You should be able to call your loved ones and receive calls normally, with perfect sound quality. All you need is a local phone number that can be provided from a temporary cell phone provider and then use Pingo to save on International calls.  You could bring your own cell phone if its a GSM phone and buy a local SIM card in the store to convert an unlocked cell phone.  However you will not need to worry about losing your expensive cell phone, including any personal information, photos or videos in the process, since you will be using a cheap and disposable cell phone model. Once your trip comes to an end, you can simply throw away your disposable phone, donate it, or have it recycled.

*Photograph “Brand New and Second Hand Cheap  Mobile Phones in MBK” by GianCayetano under Creative Commons Attribution

** Use this post only as a starting guide, please contact your prepaid cell phone carrier to confirm service availability and extra fees prior to making International calls while traveling abroad.