Tips for doing business in Vietnam

Vietnam is one of the popular country that many investors are interested to invest. Vietnam located in Southeast Asia Region which having about 88 Million people. Vietnam is a culturally rich country whose distinct history played a role in the development of the modern day state. Percent of income per capita is about 10.6%.  The official language is  Vietnamese. Their money currency is Dong or VND. GDP of purchasing power parity is $241.8 billion. Today we have a tips for doing business in Vietnam for readers. What you should do and what you should not do in order to develop strong and successful business relationships with Vietnamese counterparts.

1. Vietnamese Culture – Key Concepts and Values tradition

  • Confucianism– Based on the teachings of the early Chinese philosopher , Confucian teachings emphasise the importance of relationships, responsibility and obligation. This philosophy is still a vital component of Vietnamese society and is prevalent in Vietnamese business culture in conserving the harmony of the collective good.
  • Face– The idea of saving face is very important concept in Vietnamese society. The Vietnamese will do anything to prevent loss of face, even if it means to avoid confrontation or telling others what they want to hear rather than dealing with immediate issues. Criticising someone in public and not staying true to promises are various ways that people may lose face.
  • Collectivism– Vietnam is a collectivist society in which the needs of the group are often placed over the individual. Family and community concerns will almost always come before business or individual needs. Family in particular plays an important role in Vietnamese society.

2. Doing Business in Vietnam

  • Working practices in Vietnam: Business hours are predominantly from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday. Vietnamese prefer to schedule all meetings ahead of time, usually several weeks in advance. You should always aim to arrive at the stated time and if running late, let them know as soon as you can. Business attire tends to be professional and conservative.
  • Structure and hierarchy in Vietnamese companies: Business organizations in Vietnam tend to be hierarchical. Decisions and ideas are generated at the top, and more often than not, the eldest person has the most influence over the decision. Also, Status is important in Vietnamese society and respect should be given to supervisors and work colleagues. Status is obtained with age and education. Titles are very important in Vietnamese business culture. It is very important to respect more senior individuals, whether by education, job position or age. In business meetings, it is usually the eldest member of the group who enters the room first. In addition, the Vietnamese business world is dominated by men. Though things are changing, the majority of Vietnamese women work as secretaries, assistants or other similar administrative roles. Men are accustomed to working with foreign women in more senior roles in a business context and will treat them equally.
  • Business Practice: International business in Vietnam is mainly conducted in English. It is however polite and appreciated when foreigners use the native language when possible.  However, English will hardly be spoken in rural areas. A working knowledge of French is also beneficial.  Moreover, business cards are a common practice in Vietnam. It is polite to have your business cards printed in both English and Vietnamese. When offering your card for the first time, give it using both hands with the Vietnamese side facing up. Initial introductions in Vietnamese business are formal. A handshake while maintaining direct eye contact is the normal greeting and should also be exchanged upon leaving. Handshakes usually take place only between members of the same sex. Occasionally a slight bow will accompany the handshake. Gift giving is a common practice in Vietnam. Gifts do not need to be expensive and should be a simple token of appreciation. Common gifts include fruit and flowers.

3. DOs and DON’Ts

  • DO maintain a soft voice while conducting business, as loud voices and excessive hand gestures are often perceived as rude and make Vietnamese uncomfortable.
  • DO hand out business cards as they are a must in business dealings. Although there are some Vietnamese that have a working knowledge of English, it is considered polite business practices to print the cards in Vietnamese and use the language if possible.
  • DO wrap gifts in colourful paper.
  •  DO arrive on time to meetings as Vietnamese are very punctual. Being late is considered impolite and timeliness is expected.
  • DON’T refuse tea or food when offered by your Vietnamese counterpart. It is considered impolite.
  • DON’T stand with your hands on your hips or with your arms crossed or use your finger to point; instead use your whole hand.
  • DON’T publicly criticise others as it would cause the loss of face for both parties. Vietnamese are status conscious and appreciate the value of a good reputation.
  • DON’T touch someone’s head as it is considered to be the spiritual centre of the person.
Jaraswan Jarasjaruwan or Pear is a full-time MIM student. She got a Bachelor’s of Science from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. After she graduated, she worked as an educational consultant in Thailand for 2 years. Pear chose to study international business at Portland State University because she is interested in the business field and also the reputation of the university. Currently, Pear is studying Chinese as a third language. Also, she will choose Global Marketing as her specialization in the Master of International Management program.

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Filed under Business and Asia, Pear's Entries, Vietnam

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