- Try to learn a few words of the local language. It is
to know something of the history and of recent economic
This show's to all your interest in the country and its culture and is
another demonstration of your cultural sensitivity and good breeding.
introductions are an important part of doing business in Vietnam. A
introduction or a meeting arranged by a go-between will produce the
results. Because connections and who you are introduced by can be very
finding a reliable and credible local representative is extremely
There are some well-established consulting firms that are intimately
familiar with the Vietnamese market, but companies should be wary of
foreign and Vietnamese consultants who claim to have connections and to
know the market. Be sure to ask for references and verify the quality
and extend of the firm’s
previous work in Vietnam as there are many individuals and firms who
haven't got the connections, knowledge or experience they claim.
- It is
that you conduct research while still in your home country, learn about
the country, the marketplace, and identify local representatives and
companies for contact. Use this knowledge in discussions with
etc. as often a little knowledge can lead to additional sources which
greatly strengthen your market research.
- For any
to be consummated, you must make a long-term commitment to the country
visit it. Vietnamese are still a conservative and relation based
and connection over time and face-to-face meetings are critical in
trust and encouraging support.
eager for Americans to participate in their economy and balance the
expressed by Europeans, Japanese, and other Asians. They often
a respect for American technology and popular culture which often can
greater than even the most fervent American.
process to establish a local office can be time-consuming, taking up to
18 months. Companies that are not ready to establish a permanent base
Vietnam should consider hiring a local representative to perform
services, open new doors and to monitor any ongoing negotiation
Recently it appears that the government is taking some steps to
the process to open a representative office. This can be a good
step for many projects.
and chamber of commerce in your home country and in Vietnam.
Commercial Office representatives at your countries Embassy and the
chamber of commerce of your country often have excellent business
and can be great sources of networking.
is most efficiently conducted in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). But Hanoi
has lower capital requirements and the officials are more eager to
please. As you spread out from these two cities, local officials
are often enthusiastic for foreign investment but also infrastructure
and communications can often be more problematic.
- If an Asian person gives you a compliment, be polite and
it. Modesty is considered a blessing in Asia even more so than in
other regions. Self-depreciating humor and not overly promoting you or
associates success is often better received and can lead to smoother
with your counterparts.
- Be respectful of local culture but don't expect that you
to know everything. Most Asian will make allowances for
Also, giving a contact a chance to explain a cultural trait or a way of
doing things oftentimes is helpful in building relationships.
- Do not be
if your business counterpart of the same sex tries to hold your hand or
touch your elbow as you are walking. This action has no sexual
connotations, but is common between same-sex individuals in
Vietnam. A Vietnamese will usually not do this unless he or she
feels very comfortable with you.
standard business practice is a problem in Vietnam as it is in many
always exchanged at the first meeting. The Vietnamese often use both
to receive and give cards and also slightly bow their head to indicate
respect. Taking a minute to look at the persons card, to
pronounce their name and to acknowledge their title are often good ways
to show your counterpart that you value the opportunity to meet with
- Bring a large supply of business cards and advertising
You may meet many more people than you expect. Asians view the
of business cards in particularly as a very necessary opening
ritual. Not presenting your card often can be construed as your
company is not genuine
or you have something to hide, so please prepare the necessary
prior to your visit.
shake hands with both men and women at both the beginning and the end
a meeting. If a Vietnamese does not extend his or her handshake, a
bow of head will suffice. This is particularly common in the more rural
areas and in interaction with women.
- The order
Vietnamese name is family name, middle name, and given name. When
to someone, use his or her given name with the appropriate title, for
"Nguyen Van Khai" should be addressed as "Madame Nguyen". If the
you are meeting in a Director of an office or of a company, referring
him or her as Director and then his last name is appropriate.
- You may
who know each other referring to each other by the name of the
e.g. my brother, my niece. This is sometimes just to indicate respect.
This may not be his/her family members, but indicates somebody very
close to the speaker. This can be confusing for non-Asians but
indicates that the person thinks of the other as being a close contact
"like a" brother or sister.
- A common
"chao" (pronounced chow) should be accompanied with the appropriate
respect for age and status, e.g. "chao anh" (for male, older or those
want to show respect), "chao chi"(to older female), "chao em" (to
younger male and female). Even if you believe the other person maybe
than you, it is often best to err on the side of being overly polite
using the "chao Anh" or "chao Chi" initially when meeting a
It is however safe to use just "xin chao"(pronouced seen chao) which is
a very polite hello and good bye without identify title.
often feel uncomfortable socializing with foreign women. They
often assume that women are more comfortable in talking with other
and will often seat them accordingly at meals or sometimes in social
- You will
be served tea and something to eat. Generally this will be Vietnamese
tea or soft drinks. Be sure to sample them. Failure to taste or
a small amount of anything is considered impolite.
- Have your
materials translated into Vietnamese. Many Vietnamese today have
are studying English or other foreign languages. Most, however,
feel more comfortable with their own language.
will also need to use translators. If there is
question about the comprehension of English by the people you are
always use your own translator or interpreter. Do not rely on the
other organizations translator or interpreter. They work for the
other side and are more likely to protect their business interest and
to focus on their interests not yours. Also, meet with your
interpreter prior to the meeting and make sure they understand you and
- Try to speak more slowly and distinctly but not so slow or
as to offend. If utilizing a translator, leave breaks for your
to be translated. Keep in mind that many Asians have been
in the U.S. and that the standard of English in Hong Kong or Singapore
be very high. Avoid buzzwords and explain concepts thoroughly.
- Keep in mind that in most of Asia that dates are shown in
format, ex. 9/12/99 means December 9, 1999. To avoid
you may want to use the full date in correspondence.
- When you
senior officials, after initial pleasantries, begin discussing business
within a few minutes, for there may be few opportunities to meet with
senior person and their time is at a premium. With middle and
level officials, you should concentrate on relationship building.
what you say when you are in Vietnam. It is not unusual for the
government to monitor telephone and fax lines. The government
continues to monitor foreign business people in hotels, taxis, and
cars, and meeting rooms. Vietnamese individuals such as maids,
drivers, assistants, and even translators may be passing on information
about you to the government. This is done for reasons of both
security and business competitiveness.
- Do not
person's head, for the head is considered the spiritual center of the
- Use both
to pass things from one person to the next..
Do not point to
someone. To beckon a person, use your whole hand.