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Doing business Indian style

01 December, 2009 17:54  EasyExpat EasyExpat

India is playing an increasingly important role in the global economic scene. More and more international companies are setting up operations in the country, Indian companies are strengthening their positions globally and its reputation as the preferred offshoring hub continues to go strong. Whatever the reason may be, if you find yourself heading for a meeting in India, here are some tips that may come in handy.

1. Make that presentation longer: Indians have read the epics, they can handle more than 10 slides of your presentation. Indians are high context people so you never give them too much information. Instead of sticking to the core essentials, make your presentation a story and offer up a lot of details on the company.

2. Dress modestly: While Bollywood boasts of a lot of prancing around in skimpily clad clothes, most of the regular Indian population dresses modestly. Pants are a good bet for women. If wearing a skirt, make sure it’s at least knee length. Avoid tight fitting tops and low cut blouses and always carry a shawl. The air conditioning, when working, will be turned on to the maximum to ensure Alpine temperatures in the conference room.

3. For the love of processes: Indians love processes and will spend more time detailing how to get to a certain point rather than what to do when you get there. So if you’re presenting, make sure you have the process worked out to the last detail and if you’re being presented to, ensure that as much thought  goes into why you’re doing what you’re doing and what happens when you get there.

4. Expect delays: Punctuality is not an Indian strongpoint. In fact, Indian Standard Time (IST) has been affectionately dubbed ‘Indian Stretchable Time.’ And for good reason. While in India, you can expect meetings to start later than planned and go on for much longer. You’d do yourself a big favour by fixing some buffer time between meetings. Also, bear in mind that a10 kilometer distance in a major city will take a lot more than 10 minutes to cover.

5. Small talk is big: Indians like to know and feel comfortable with the people they work with. So expect much small talk and questions about your education and background. Feel free to do the same. Showing an interest in cricket will make you an instant hit with the local crowd. Don’t worry if you don’t know too much about the sport… enthusiasm is more important than knowledge.

6. The boss is king: In many Indian organizations, hierarchy is still the norm and the boss has the last word on all important issues. It’s in your best interest to identify this person early in the meeting and make him/ her your new best friend. If invited for a meal or drink, make sure you accept as turning down the invitation could be a lost opportunity to make those important inroads to a personal relationship.

7. Saving face: It’s important for Indians not to lose face in front of their friends or colleagues. When in a meeting make sure that you are respectful and courteous with all people present. Being blunt will make you look unsophisticated.  A kind gesture will earn you a place in the Indian heart.

StarFind more information about expat life in India on Easy Expat with our guides on the cities of Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai.


Sidd Lobo
Freelance writer


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