Introduction to Korean Business Etiquette

Etiquette is the code of social behavior that governs human interactions and rules how human behaves in the society.

Business etiquette is a set of manners which is required and accepted in a profession. It is upheld and enforced by all members of an organization. Violation of etiquette might result in disapproval, reprimand, or even punishment.

If you work in a Korean company or you have business relations with Korean people and/or Korean company, you are advised to be knowledgeable about Korean business etiquette.

Korean business etiquette actually consists of many elements. Therefore, this article will be a brief introduction to it.

Applying Business Etiquette

Business etiquette is exercised starting from the first business meeting.

Even though business relation is possible to be established by online communication, a physical meeting is much more preferable.

By meeting directly, the parties involved have more flexibility to:

  1. present themselves and their organizations,
  2. assess each other,
  3. build rapport, and
  4. lay foundation for further relationship.

To adhere to the business etiquettes, it is important to be well prepared in these aspects.

Attire

Formal attire such as dress and business suit with white shirt is a must. Colors range acceptable in a business environment is limited to muted and monochrome colors, like black, white, grey, navy, and dark brown.

Is accessory allowed?

For men, it is limited to wristwatch, wedding ring, and cufflinks. Men can also improve their look by experimenting with the color and pattern of the tie they wear.

For women, modest jewelry, for example only a pair of earrings or a necklace or a bracelet, is advised. Extravagant jewelry is considered a distraction in a formal business atmosphere.

Having considered that, it is very unlikely to meet someone dressing up in a red suit and wearing gold chain necklace for a business meeting.

That, my friend, only happens in K-Drama.

Business Card

Business card is very important in conducting business meeting. It is a worker’s identity as a representative of the company that he/she works for.

Your business card is representing your company and its image. Please be cautious regarding these things:

1. Business Card Availability

If you plan to meet five clients within the same day, bring business cards as many as minimum three times that number, e.g., fifteen business cards.

Make sure you don’t run out business cards while holding meeting in or outside your company’s premise.

It is embarrassing not to have your business card with you while meeting potential business relations.

2. Business Card Keeping

Keep your own business card separate from the business cards you receive from other people.

One card holder with mixed contents will make you confused when retrieving your own or somebody else’s card.

Having separated card holders will help you remember the people you meet and their potential roles for your company’s business.

3. Business Card Stowing

Don’t put your business card holder inside the back pocket of your trousers. It will make the card wrinkled and warm because of your body heat. It will also be awkward for everyone present in that meeting.

Put your business card holder inside the breast pocket of your suit or inside a separate compartment in your suitcase/handbag. Retrieving the business card from the said places is more respectful.

Conducting Business Meeting

When meeting for business, be on time or come earlier than schedule. Not making the other party having to wait is a sign of respect.

Here are five things to consider when conducting business meeting.

FIRST. Bowing, instead of shaking hand, is considered as greeting in a Korean business meeting. You need to bend from the waist to an angle of between 30 and 45 degrees from vertical.

SECOND. When handing out business cards, do it while standing up, not sitting down.

THIRD. Hand out your business card by using both hands, with your thumbs holding the bottom corners of the card.

FOURTH. After receiving your counterpart’s business card, don’t immediately stow it inside the business card holder. Read it for a few seconds and recite the information written on the card. Don’t forget to say that you are pleased to meet him/her.

FIFTH. If you are seated afterwards, place the business card you just received on the table, facing up and within your sight. The information written on the card can help you keep the conversation going.

What to Expect After First Business Meeting

As I’ve stated earlier, first business meeting serves more like an introduction and a way to establish rapport among the parties present in the meeting.

Don’t expect to make a grand decision or close a deal within a first meeting. Be patient and considerate, focus not only on your goals, but also on the other party’s needs.

Once relationship and trust are established, expect to be invited for lunch, dinner, or after-office-hours drink to have further discussion in regard to business.

Have you ever conducted business meeting with Korean people/company?

I’d like to hear what your impressions are on their business etiquette.

Until next article!

2 thoughts on “Introduction to Korean Business Etiquette

  1. Dimulai dari menghargai apa yang kita miliki dulu yaa.. ((dengan menaruh business card gak sembarangan)) baru kita bisa memberikan yang terbaik kepada orang lain.

    Aku pikir business card ini hanya sebatas design yang eye catching dan kesesuaian dengan bisnis yang dimiliki.

    Ternyata,
    Ada attitude yang harus dilakukan saat memberikan kepada orang lain.

    Salut banget sama imagenya. Sampai bikin sendiri loo..kak Rij.
    But, mian…I can’t put my comment in english.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hehe iya persiapan sebelum business meeting ada banyak, mulai dari baju, kartu nama, dan sebagainya. Bagus ya, etika/etiket gini mencerminkan respek & penghargaan terhadap orang lain 💜

      Like

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