General rules of business etiquette are applied to all cultures. Business etiquette is based on hierarchy and power unlike social etiquette, which is based on gender and chivalry. No one should be given special treatment in the business arena because of gender. Everyone should be treated equally well.
When you meet someone for the first time, use a title (“Dr.”, “Ms.”, “Miss”, “Mrs.”, or “Mr.”) followed by his or her last name until you are told to do otherwise. If you are not sure of a woman’s marital status, use “Ms.”. A firm handshake is the customary greeting for both men and women. Persons of lesser importance are introduced to persons of greater importance, regardless of gender. The name of the most important person is said first.
Present your business card with two hands. When receiving another’s business card take a moment to look it over and make a comment. If seated at a table place the card in front of you for easy reference. Do not write on the business card. Do not place the card in your back pocket. If possible, place your cards in a nice carrying case.
Call two to five days ahead to set a meeting time. Always arrive on time for an appointment. Arrive no more than five minutes early. Present your business card to the receptionist when you arrive for an appointment. Turn your cell phone off. Present your hand upon meeting and parting. Do stand for all introductions. Breakfast & lunch meetings are common. Meeting for coffee or tea is becoming more popular.
Presenting a gift is a thoughtful gesture, but it is not expected. Send a thank you note after a first meeting and after a large transaction is completed. Business, gifts are often presented after the deal is closed. The best gifts are those that come from your country.
When you visit a home, it is not necessary to take a gift, although it is always appreciated. Flowers, a potted plant, or a bottle of wine can be good gift choices. However, if you stay in a US home for a few days, a gift is appropriate. You may also write a thank-you note.
The typical workweek is Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm
For a first meeting, you cannot go wrong if you dress conservatively. Afterwards, you may want to follow the example of your American counterparts. When not working, feel free to dress casually. In their leisure hours, you will notice that Americans wear a wide range of casual items, such as running shoes, T-shirts, jeans, track pants, shorts, baseball caps, and so on.
The US has a broad range of climates. The 100th meridian divides the dry (west) and humid (east) climates of the US The Southwest is the hottest and driest region while the Pacific Northwest is the wettest region. The Rocky Mountains, Cascades, and Sierra Nevada have typical highland climates and are also heavily forested. Along the Pacific coast is the Mediterranean-type climate of southern California and the marine West Coast climate that extends north into southeast Alaska.
The Average Temperature of the Pacific Northwest Tacoma region is 40 degrees in the winter and 70 degrees in the summer. Average rainfall is 37.6 inches a year.
If you are invited out for a business meal, the host will usually pay. Going out for a non-business meal, the cost is sometimes shared with friends or colleagues, a practice often referred to as “getting separate checks”, “going Dutch”, or “splitting the bill.”
Smoking is not as commonplace and is subject to restrictions in most public places. Do not smoke during a business meeting. Before smoking, the best policy is to ask if anyone minds, or wait to see if others smoke. Restaurants often have a section where smoking is permitted; many hotels designate rooms as smoking and non-smoking.
Until you know a person well, avoid discussing religion, politics or other controversial subjects (i.e., abortion, racism, sexism).