When I heard of Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands: Sales and Marketing, subtitled The Essential Cultural Guide – from Presentations and Promotions to Communicating and Closing my first reaction was, “Doesn’t really apply to me”. On second thought, bloggers, travel writers and digital nomads/location independent entrepreneurs can gain valuable information from the content too. Even though the book is aimed for another type of business traveler.
From Argentina to the US via China, Russia and Turkey, the guide covers 20 countries in total. Introductory demographics are followed by helpful sections such as “Icebreakers” (topics or questions to start a meeting), “What Time Should I Arrive?”, “How Close Should I Stand?”, “Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands?”, “Three Tips for Selling”, and “Wow Factor” (something special to close the chapter, and hopefully your sale). Other sections include tips on business cards and language phrases to learn before departure. Throughout the chapters you’ll also find “Cultural Notes” and “Advertising Notes” with relevant recommendations or anecdotes for the country in question.
My sense that this guide would be useful for any person who travels and works globally increased the further I read. Whether I learned the fastest way to establish rapport in Argentina, that you should never refuse an invite to eat in Brazil, how common it is to share a large table with strangers at German restaurants, that Germans dislike surprises – even positive ones, that a “No” in India can be viewed as insulting, proper greeting in Arabic, or that no smart traveler declines social invitations in Mexico, the guidance feels like trusted advice from an old friend. A successful and well-traveled friend who has spent years doing business and learning the proper local customs of every country he visited.
The lessons learned from business trips of other companies and individuals add a refreshing element to the content. Of how a sales manager’s willingness to try the infamous durian fruit in Indonesia closed a deal, or how an Argentinean company chose to sign with the Swedes who had spent five days getting to know them instead of talking business at once like the Americans did. This confirm that it pays off (in more than one aspect) to abandon the “my way or the highway” mindset at home and adapt to the customs of your new temporary home.
Concluding, in this case, my first impression was not lasting. This does apply to me, and every other blogger or digital nomad who wants to learn about different cultures, how to travel like a local, and how to handle any business endeavours in a suitable way.