Relationships & Communication
Indians prefer to do business with those they know.
Relationships are built upon mutual trust and respect.
In general, Indians prefer to have long-standing personal relationships prior to doing business.
It may be a good idea to go through a third party introduction. This gives you immediate credibility.
Business Meeting Etiquette
If you will be travelling to India from abroad, it is advisable to make appointments by letter, at least one month and preferably two months in advance.
It is a good idea to confirm your appointment as they do get cancelled at short notice.
The best time for a meeting is late morning or early afternoon. Reconfirm your meeting the week before and call again that morning, since it is common for meetings to be cancelled at the last minute.
Keep your schedule flexible so that it can be adjusted for last minute rescheduling of meetings.
You should arrive at meetings on time since Indians are impressed with punctuality.
Meetings will start with a great deal of getting-to- know-you talk. In fact, it is quite possible that no business will be discussed at the first meeting.
Always send a detailed agenda in advance. Send back-up materials and charts and other data as well. This allows everyone to review and become comfortable with the material prior to the meeting.
Follow up a meeting with an overview of what was discussed and the next steps.
Indians are non-confrontational. It is rare for them to overtly disagree, although this is beginning to change in the managerial ranks.
Decisions are reached by the person with the most authority.
Decision making is a slow process.
If you lose your temper you lose face and prove you are unworthy of respect and trust.
Delays are to be expected, especially when dealing with the government.
Most Indians expect concessions in both price and terms. It is acceptable to expect concessions in return for those you grant.
Never appear overly legalistic during negotiations. In general, Indians do not trust the legal system and someone's word is sufficient to reach an agreement.
Do not disagree publicly with members of your negotiating team.
Successful negotiations are often celebrated by a meal.
Business attire is conservative.
Men should wear dark coloured conservative business suits.
Women should dress conservatively in suits or dresses.
The weather often determines clothing. In the hotter parts of the country, dress is less formal, although dressing as suggested above for the first meeting will indicate respect.
Indians revere titles such as Professor, Doctor and Engineer.
Status is determined by age, university degree, caste and profession.
If someone does not have a professional title, use the honorific title "Sir" or "Madam".
Titles are used with the person's name or the surname, depending upon the person's name. (See Social Etiquette for more information on Indian naming conventions.)
Wait to be invited before using someone's first name without the title.
Business cards are exchanged after the initial handshake and greeting.
If you have a university degree or any honour, put it on your business card.
Use the right hand to give and receive business cards.
Business cards need not be translated into Hindi.
Always present your business card so the recipient may read the card as it is handed to them.