9 Tips for Your First Business Meeting in Mexico
November 14, 2017
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Building Business Relationships South of the Border
If you’re looking to do business with Mexico, one thing is going to become really clear. They prefer meeting face-to-face rather than with phone calls and emails. This means in order to build a strong relationship with your suppliers, you’re going to have to make the trip south of the border.
In order to build a strong relationship with your suppliers, you’re going to have to make the trip south of the border
Don’t be intimidated by having a business meeting in another country. Here are nine things you need to know in order to make a good first impression on your business partners in Mexico.
1. Be prepared to eat
Meetings in Mexico don’t often take place in a boardroom. Because of the social nature of the culture, many people prefer to have meetings over food or coffee. If, during the course of the meeting, you’re offered food or drinks, don’t refuse. Make a point of trying the things on offer to show you respect the culture of Mexico.
2. Leave your morning open
Not only do business meetings in Mexico take place over a meal, they typically take place over the first meal of the day. Breakfast meetings are common, with 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. considered the most productive time of day.
3. Offer to pick up the check
While you most likely won’t end up paying for it, the offer will go a long way. One of reasons Mexicans like doing business in person, is so they can properly judge the character of the person across the table. By offering to pay for the meal, even if they’re hosting, you show that you’re prepared to be a true partner.
One of reasons Mexicans like doing business in person, is so they can properly judge the character of the person across the table
4. Be flexible
While you may have an appointment to meet a potential supplier over coffee or lunch, don’t be surprised if they’re late. Being punctual is not a top priority. Business meetings tend to be fluid. While you can prepare an agenda, it doesn’t mean you’ll stick to it. Instead, Mexicans prefer to use meetings as an opportunity to have a free exchange of ideas. That could mean that side meetings pop up during a larger meeting. Or the topic meanders as new things come up. Or even that people are interrupted when someone wants to address an issue or present a new idea. Stay flexible and engaged in the conversation. This is how relationships are built.
5. Enjoy the friendliness
Body language and person space are slightly different in Mexico. While Americans would keep a physical boundary between themselves and a colleague, it’s quite common in Mexico to share physical touch before, after, or during a meeting. This could be a hand on the shoulder, a hug or even a kiss on the cheek. Mexicans are comfortable with an arm’s length (or less) personal space. As with any meeting, let the host lead when it comes to body language. While it’s common, your particular supplier may not be the hugging type. Also make sure to make eye contact and smile when in meetings. Failing to do so could be seen being inattentive, or potentially untrustworthy.
It’s quite common in Mexico to share physical touch before, after, or during a meeting
6. Don’t take offense
To be fully engaged in a conversation in Mexico can mean that voices are raised or gestures are strong. Sometimes it can come off as anger, but that’s not the case. It simply means the speaker is active and enthusiastic about the conversation. Not only should you not be offended, you can also show some enthusiasm of your own.
7. Don’t forget the titles
While meetings may feel informal, it is still best practice to refer to someone by their title unless specifically asked not to. If your potential supplier asks you to refer to them by their first name, you’re safe to do so.
8. Pick up some Spanish
One of the best ways to show your business partner in Mexico that you’re trustworthy and there to do business is by learning some Spanish. If you don’t speak Spanish fluently, think about having a translator present so you don’t miss any of the nuances of the meeting. But it’s always nice to learn some basic greetings or how to order food or coffee. It shows to them that you’re committed to doing business with them in their country.
9. Maintain your good relationship with reliable payments
One of the best ways to build a solid relationship with a supplier is to pay your bills regularly and on time. Sending international wire transfers can be tricky, and the Mexican banking system isn’t always compatible with your US bank. In order to ensure a prompt payment, set up a Veem account so you can pay your supplier. Not only does it allow payments to 100 countries, your payments are also trackable, faster and more reliable than your bank, and without all the hidden fees.
International payments can be tricky, and the Mexican banking system isn’t always compatible with your US bank
By traveling to Mexico to meet your supplier, you’re one step closer to build an international network for your business. Expanding globally can help you source cheaper products, help you find new customers for your business, and it can even protect your small business from the ebbs and flows of the American economy.
If you want to know more, check out our comprehensive guide on How to do Business in Mexico.
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