There are many challenges when doing business abroad. It is important to understand the business culture of a country you plan to business in, and the country’s etiquette. This is important because it can help you build a good relationship with your newfound partners, and improve your odds of having a successful business trip.
So, here’s a guide with tips for doing business in Mexico, as well as culture and etiquette.
1. Develop personal relationships in Mexico.
In most business deals, personal relationships are important because we prefer to associate and deal with people we like, know and trust. Focus on building the right relationships; ones that are strong and long-lasting.
“For the most part, Mexicans don’t believe in doing business with strangers. If they do not feel comfortable around you, your chances of closing a deal will plummet (AllBusiness).” If you don’t know your lay of the land, reach out to local entrepreneurs who do and turn online contacts into offline business relationships.
2. Deal with the right people.
Learn the gatekeepers and the decision makers. This is important in business. Quickly identify who makes the decisions regarding your dealings. Some areas of responsibility are made clear while others are more varied and unstructured. In other words, make sure you deal with the right people.
3. Send the right people.
If you send members of your team to Mexico, make sure you are sending people at the right seniority level. In other words, don’t send new employees to deal with more senior teams in Mexico. This can easily make them feel insulted.
4. Consider language barriers.
Many people speak English in Mexico, however it is a Spanish-speaking country, and although most Mexicans, mainly in the cities and tourist areas, speak English, a good number do not. You might need to bring an interpreter with you (or work with local in-market partners who are bilingual) if you can’t speak and understand the Spanish language.
5. Business lunch etiquette.
Generally, in Mexico, lunch is taken around two in the afternoon. “Generally eaten between 2 and 4 pm, comida is the main meal of the day. It may consist of several courses, including soup (sopa) or salad (ensalada), a main dish (guisado) and dessert (postre). It is often accompanied by a fruit flavored water (agua fresca),” according to About Travel. Also, it’s a very leisurely meal so this is not the time to discuss business.
6. Breakfast meetings are not uncommon.
In Mexico, breakfast meetings are common. In fact, it is important for many people in Mexico. Breakfast meetings can play a very important role in building relationships. Generally taken “between 7:00am and 10:00am, breakfast in Mexico can range from a simple cup of coffee to a huge spread featuring ‘huevos rancheros’ (corn tortillas filled with fried eggs and a sauce of chili, tomato & onion) (La Campesina).”
7. Dress smart.
Dress smart. This is important to do in business situations, as well as social situations. “Business dress in Mexico City tends to be somewhat more formal than in other parts of the country. Suits are often worn in the capital whereas smart shirts and slacks are sufficient in the provincesIf in doubt, check in advance. Remember that Mexico is hot – so take lightweight clothing (WorldBusinessCulture.com).”
“If you’re a woman, it is appropriate to wear business slacks if you wish, but given the strict gender roles in Mexican culture, it may be better to wear a black or dark grey skirt with a suit, along with hosiery and high heels. Stay away from sandals or “peep toe” shoes, no matter if they may be appropriate in a business situation back home (Language Trainers).”
8. Punctuality is important.
Usually, it is acceptable for visitors to be late, but only if it’s because of no fault of their own. However, it is always good to have good punctuality. If you do business in Mexico City, then give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination.
According to AllBusiness, “most companies keep their doors open between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. This varies slightly, however, depending on the industry and location. Factories often operate around the clock, with three eight-hour shifts rotating in and out.”
9. Know the laws and regulations.
Understanding the ins and outs of laws in Mexico as well as details on customs regulations and export rules can make the process a lot easier and smoother. For instance, “when shipping a product overseas as part of a commercial transaction, the exporter must be aware of packing, labeling, documentation, and insurance requirements (Export.gov).” Also, these tips from NAPS Immex can shed some light on customs compliance and regulations in Mexico.
10. Communication is key.
When two people are talking to each other, they tend to stand a specific distance apart. For example, in the U.S. people tend to require more personal space than in other cultures. In Mexico, “conversations take place at a close physical distance. Stepping back may be regarded as unfriendly.” Meanwhile, “refrain from using first names until invited to do so.”
This article has been edited and condensed.
Cormac Reynolds works and writes for a variety of marketing and internet blogs. He loves all sorts of different aspects of blogging and also has a big interest in bludgeoning the culinary arts. Connect with @brightoncormac on Twitter.
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