CORPORATE ENGLISH COSULTING
While it is true that a lot of business these days is done from behind a computer or a telephone, at some stage in every business person's career there will be a need to go to a client's office and make contact personally.
This may be because of a need to physically examine a new product or design, to meet a new executive, or for some other important reason that generally justifies a physical visit to a far away locale.
When this happens, it's important to strike the right note with the client as it may be that you have never met face to face before, and the client will be evaluating you every bit as much as you will be evaluating him or her.
For this reason, it's important to plan your trip well and make as many important decisions as you can before you arrive, leaving you with a clear mind to focus on the important business at hand.
You can begin by checking the availability of hotels and flights using the following telephone language:
''Good morning, I wonder if you could give me some information about the availability of flights to Hong Kong on September 22?''
When booking a hotel room, the following language can be used:
''Good morning, I am looking for a single en suite room with a wireless connection for three nights starting on September 22. Do you have such a room available?''
Make a list of documents to take with you, as well as a list of important questions that you need to find the answers to in order to make your trip successful.
Try to memorise the names of the clients, the departments they work in, their position in the company, personal information like their age and their professional qualifications.
People are usually impressed when others have taken the time to find out something about them, and this will ensure you create a good first impression in their minds.
When you arrive, it's quite probable that someone from the client's company will be there to meet you.
Remember, to shake hands, exchange business cards, and offer lots of eye contact while thanking them for taking the trouble to come and meet you.
Make sure to research what the local custom is for greetings.
For example, if you are visiting Japan, you would be well advised to receive the client's business card with both hands (not one) and examine it closely, showing great interest in it.
It is important to make small talk to relax the person welcoming you. Useful language here might be the following:
''Oh, I see you are an accounts manager for Sumitomo Bank. I'm delighted to meet you. How long have you worked at the bank?''
'Thank you' email
When you have arrived back home, it's a good idea to write a follow up email primarily to thank your hosts for an enjoyable trip.
You can also use this email to clarify any deals made, to highlight modifications to existing contracts, to schedule any further trips, or simply to extend a reciprocal welcome to come and visit your company at a date sometime in the future.
You should begin by thanking your hosts. However, as you have now personally met the clients face to face, and the medium you are using is email, try to avoid using formal language.
To create the right tone, you can use the following language:
''Thank you for the warm welcome in Hong Kong. I really enjoyed my time there, and the scheduled meetings were very positive and productive. I look forward to welcoming you to our flagship branch in Bangkok in December.''