How to do business in Vietnam

The Vietnamese people in general are eager to have Americans participate and invest in their economy, and the potential for economic and financial growth is very attractive for many American businesses as well.

A large cultural gap exists between the two countries, however, and careful preparation should be mandatory before you do business in Vietnam.

Following are some tips for your doing business in Vietnam:

1. Focus on Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as the targets for your business dealings in Vietnam, since the economic foundation of the country is mostly contained in these locations. 

While there may be more opportunity for economic development in Ho Chi Minh City due to the larger population and entertainment base, officials in Hanoi may be more eager to business with you to promote financial growth in the northern region of Vietnam.

2. Take the time to research Vietnam before you develop a business plan.

Vietnamese businessmen may test you on your knowledge of their country before they decide to do business with you.

By learning about the people, the culture and the consumer habits of the Vietnamese people, you will impress your Vietnamese counterparts and convince them to do business with you.

3. Shake hands at the beginning of every business meeting, and at the end as well.

This goes for men and women alike.

In more rural areas, a slight bow may be substituted for the conventional handshake.

4. Exchange business cards at the beginning of every business meeting in Vietnam.

Like most Asian countries, the exchange of business cards is an important ritual, and every facet of your business card will be studied and read before conversation can begin.

5. Ensure that you and all of your business associates have the proper travel documentation to enter Vietnam. 

In addition to valid passports, you and your team will need travel visas, which are available through the official website of the Embassy of Vietnam.

The cost of these visas will vary with the amount of time you need to spend in Vietnam, and how many times you plan to leave and enter the country over a specific period.

Source: Vietnam Language Centre in Singapore

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