Be the business in Asia: four etiquette tips

From the importance of punctuality to the correct way to exchange cards, observing these simple rules will help you seal that all-important deal

1. Be prepared for plenty of return trips

Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, business relationships generally take longer to build in Asia than in the West. It is a ‘meet and greet’ region and many Asians prefer to build personal friendship and trust through a number of face-to-face meetings before making any commitments. Therefore, if you want to strike that all-important deal, it’s vital you’re prepared for frequent travel.

2. Understand the importance of cultural sensitivity

One of the golden rules of doing business in Asia is to grasp the importance of showing consideration. This means avoiding any action or situation that would cause another person to feel ashamed or embarrassed. For example, do not refuse hospitality offered at meals, or reject a thoughtful and appropriate gift, and be careful not to apportion blame for mistakes in public. Failure to understand this concept could jeopardise future business dealings.

3. Use business cards correctly

Business cards carry more significance in Asia than they do in the West. That means presenting and receiving them in a respectful manner. Give and receive cards with both hands and read a business card carefully before placing it on the table in front of you for the duration of a meeting.

4. Be punctual

When making business connections in places such as Singapore, keep one eye fixed on the clock. Although it is considered normal by most Asians to arrive late for social events, punctuality is demanded for business appointments.

Singapore Airlines — the world’s most awarded airline — and its regional wing SilkAir, operate flights to 99 destinations in 34 countries. Fly to Singapore from ££2,090pp in Business Class. Promotional fares are available until 31 October 2016 for travel from London Heathrow from 1 May 2017 to 30 June 2017. Subject to availability. Fares shown may differ due to currency and fuel surcharge fluctuations. Full fare conditions are available on

For more Singapore Airlines destinations, read the travel section of The Evening Standard and The Independent.

A version of this article first appeared on and

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