global indiaEvery year, around 3.5 million tourists flock to India to experience its rich historical, cultural, and culinary riches. However, a significant and growing number of Western travelers headed to India for business, as I did a few weeks back.

You first time business travelers may be curious about what to expect on your meeting in India – even if you’ve visited the country for pleasure before.

First and Foremost – If you’ve never been to India before, do your research about the basics.

Most business travelers plan but do little research on transportation at their destination. Renting a car in Buffalo or Paris is relatively straightforward but in India it’s a little more complicated. Ask you Indian colleagues on hotel advice, Google safety advice, and always get a prepaid taxi from the airport when you arrive.

Preparation

In most cases your contacts in India will arrange a driver to get you in and around the city. Don’t feel shy in accepting, it’s the easiest way to get around – and probably safest if you’ll be walking around in a business suit. Which brings me to my next point, what to wear.

What (Not) To Wear

An Indian colleague of mine told me before my first trip to ask the persons I’ll be meeting with how they normally dress for meetings. Generally suits or formal-wear isn’t required, or worn. In almost any business setting I’ve found business casual to be universally acceptable in India.

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You’ll Be Meeting With More

In the Western world, even at large companies, you usually have a single person multitasking many different roles. The IT manager may also double as the network administrator, security engineer, or help desk. In India most roles will be given to individual employees.

No matter what field you’re in, you can expect to meet with almost twice as many senior staff than you would in the US or Europe.

The Formal Greeting

Receiving a client, potential customer, or investor from abroad is a big deal to any Indian company, and you’ll be greeted with respect, no matter what your job title is. It’s not that Indians feel inferior to you – but business meetings are personal ones as well. You’ve traveled a long way to meet with them and they don’t want you to regret it.

On Thursday I’ll post the second part of what to expect during your actual meeting. Any questions so far – ask me in the comments or send me an email!

[photo by snowsoulmate]