Global gifting: a sampling of suitable gifts, from local honey to yak hair hats.

Author:Ostermiller, Pamela
Position::Focus
 
FREE EXCERPT

The time has come to seal the deal. You've researched, planned and negotiated and things are going swimmingly, when, moments after you present your potential clients with a gift, the proceedings rapidly sour. The room turns cold and you are escorted swiftly to the door, narrowly dodging a kick in the pants. You blew it. Just like that, you were done in by your lovely gift of ... sandals. Death by flip-flops. Why? Because according to Chinese culture and countries guided by its influence, straw sandals represent funerals. Who knew? And how are you supposed to know?

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Cultural and religious customs and protocols need to be part of your toolkit if you're going to do business in the worldwide market. The new global economy demands that the savvy businessperson become familiar with more than currencies and national holidays, learning whether a culture eats pork or sees the color red as the equivalent to a curse of everlasting hell. You need to study these things before you go. Beyond blowing a deal, you could offend someone's ego or find yourself running for the border.

But to be knowledgeable about every country's customs is time-consuming. Luckily a number of web sites and books have arisen to safely guide the wary executive through gift-giving waters. Plus, we've found many gifts that are all-around appropriate along with tips shared by local execs who themselves have received a menagerie of items from the fabulous to the downright confusing.

To consistently please and delight people--and make your dealings a success--here are some good rules of thumb. First, unless the destination culture absolutely prohibits gifts, considers them a bribe or showy display of wealth, always give a gift. "In my experience, it is completely unacceptable not to give a gift, even if it's a small thing," reports Heather King, product manager at USANA Health Sciences who has done business primarily in East Asia. "Even associates visiting from Australia, where gifts are not traditionally exchanged, always bring something."

Choose a gift that is appropriate to the person's position in the company, i.e. an impressive gift for a senior executive and more subtle gifts for assisting staff. Or you may consider giving one large gift to the entire group, suggests Bradford Richardson, vice president of international development at USANA who has done business in every corner of the globe...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP