Are you a globetrotter visiting places to further your business interests? Is Singapore your next destination to meet up with your business clients? Then, here are some important facts you need to know about this premier city-state in Asia. Acquainting with these facts prior to undertaking your trip would help greatly in overcoming the likely obstacles.
It is common knowledge now that Singapore has become Asia’s top convention city and has also ranked among the world’s top 10 meeting destinations. The sovereign tiny Asian giant has fantastic infrastructure needed to host successful meetings, congresses, conventions, exhibitions or tradeshows. There are many hotels here offering extensive conference facilities, such as secretarial services, state-of-the-art audio-visual system, and translation and instant interpretation systems. Moreover, there’s a self-contained convention city named ‘Raffles City’, where up to 6,000 delegates can be accommodated at the same time under one roof. Apart from this, Singapore Expo and Suntec Singapore are among other popular venues for hosting exhibitions and larger conventions.
Singapore is particularly mostly dependent on entrepôt trade. The country is a major hub for other trades as well, such as finance and banking, information technology, electronics, oil refining, shipbuilding and repairing, and to some extent tourism too. Asia’s premier city-state has also successfully confronted global economic turmoil in the past. The success of Singapore can be gauged from the fact that the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index ranked it at the top in 2011.
Business Etiquette and Tips
Singapore is like any other Western country when it comes to doing business here. English is a predominant language and spoken extensively in business circles. Punctuality is the norm here when meeting business clients and need to be adhered to strictly. Before meeting your clients make your appointments beforehand.
This multi-cultural country mostly comprises of people from Chinese, Malay and Indian ethnicities. If you are meeting a client who happens to be a Chinese then address him/her with surname, which usually precedes the later part of their names. The second major population here is Malays. You can address them by their personal name. Since most Malays are Muslims, here’s something important you need to know to avoid confusion. The personal name of Malay people is usually followed by ‘bin’ (in case of son) and ‘bint’ (in case of daughter), and then followed by their respective father’s name. ‘Mohd’ or ‘Mohammed’ is the common abbreviation mostly used by males. However, when you are meeting an Indian client, you need to know that surnames are not used by them, and instead their father’s name initial is placed before their own name.
The official language for conducting business in Singapore is English. However, Chinese people follow some business ethics, which you should also consider. Whether it’s business or social occasion, exchanging business cards is a trend here. The courtesy demands that you need to receive or give business cards with both hands. This also includes money as well.
Corporate entertaining should figure high on your agenda. The popular option is either to go for lavish buffets or long lunches. Though, in many places smoking is completely prohibited and is also socially unacceptable too. Before lighting a cigarette you always need seek your client’s permission. Business dress is usually formal. However, people dispense with a jacket, apart from official meetings. Business women mostly wear trouser suits or skirts. Casual Fridays though have also been adopted by some organizations. People usually work long hours here, including both expatriates and locals. The average official working day is 0900-1700 hours. However, working longer hours than stipulated time is quite common.
Now that you have come to know the mode and etiquettes of conducting business in Singapore, it will become quite easy for you to clinch successful business deals when visiting the country next time.