International Business – Part 1

Written by on July 18, 2012 in Career - No comments | Print this page

International Business - Part 1

They look ready for their trip abroad.

Going abroad is always a challenge. You have to make sure that you have everything booked, you have the proper documentation, and you are packed. Now, add to that making sure you have the right business plan. It can get very stressful quickly.

As a tourist, if you act like a bumbling, Ugly American, nothing really happens. You might get a few dirty looks but, nothing too serious. As a business person, acting like a bumbling, Ugly American can cost you money. To keep this from happening, here is the first article in a series on doing business abroad.


As looks centered as the US it, it’s not the worst offender around when it comes to discrimination based on appearances. Keep this in mind when packing for your trip. You want to make sure that you dress to impress when abroad.

For men, this means good quality, tailored suits with a modern cut. You suit should be in a dark, conservative color. Next, wear a crisp white or French blue shirt with your suit. In addition to this, your shoes should be shined and all of your clothing should be well pressed. Accessories, such as pocket squares, cufflinks, and a nice watch are also good to have.

For women, I would recommend more stereotypically feminine business attire, such as a skirt suit or a sheath with a matching blazer. The reason for this is that pantsuits are not acceptable everywhere. For instance, in South Korea, pantsuits are viewed negatively. You don’t want to offend your client by wearing the wrong thing. Like the men, women’s clothing should be good quality, tailored, and pressed. Accessories, like tasteful jewelry and leather bags, are also appropriate.

Now, not everywhere has the same fashion sense as the US. In South Korea, men often wear ties with rhinestones on them. However, just because the locals do it doesn’t mean you should too. Everyone will understand if you aren’t wearing the latest local trend however, you will get made fun of if you wear the trend and you wear it the wrong way. So, just stick to your own country’s attire until you get more established in your international business destination.

Hygiene & Grooming

Hygiene and grooming are not the same thing. Hygiene refers to showering, tooth brushing, deodorant, laundry, etc. Now, I’m going to assume that you have this down and skip over to grooming.

Grooming is something that is somewhat cultural. It refers to things like skin care, shaving, hair care, nails, etc. Different cultures have different expectations about this. However, like in fashion, you should just stick to your own country’s standards of grooming. If beards are really fashionable in the country you’re going to, it’s probably not feasible for you to grow a beard just for your meeting.

That said, you should use your country’s highest standards of grooming. This means to make sure that you shave or trim your facial hair, take care of any unruly eyebrow hair, and make sure your nails are well cared for. Often, when abroad, you won’t be judged by the standards of the country you’re in but, you will be judged by the standards of your own country. So, make sure you are meeting them.

When doing business abroad, you have enough things to worry about without your look being one of them.

How do you dress when you’re abroad?


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About the Author

Jen Small

Jen is a writer who is originally from South Florida. A former recruiter for a Fortune 500 company, she has also worked in several different industries - real estate, insurance, construction, and education. Jen has now taken this experience to help others as a resume writer and designer. She currently lives and works in South Korea. View all posts with career advice.