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Culture Shock?

First impressions count. Here's how to get the most out of that initial business meeting.

This story appears in the May 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

It's your first big trip abroad to meet potential partners in Indonesia. After settling in, they throw a dinner party in your honor. At one point during the festivities, they offer you the gratuitous fish eye (for your consumption, of course). Now, be honest: Did their gift catch you off guard?

It shouldn't have, especially since this scenario is harmonious with Indonesian culture. And as any entrepreneur who's conducted overseas meetings can tell you, the only way to prevail in the initial face-to-face meetings with potential partners is to acquire--and demonstrate--a thorough understanding of their culture. If you do your homework, chances are you can minimize the surprises and maximize the results.

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