- Plan ahead. Get your meetings lined up at least four weeks in advance of your trip.
- Focus on the capitals. Most business is conducted in the major city of each country so plan your itinerary accordingly.
- Give yourself enough time. You need at least two full days in each city to conduct your meetings and get a feel for the market. Use your travel days as a chance to recoup. Traveling in Southeast Asia can be exhausting and you need to bring your ‘A Game’ to every meeting.
- Get on the grid. Use a VOIP tool like Skype forwarding and pick up a local SIM-card from a 7-Eleven in each city so you’re on local networks. Local call and data plans are inexpensive.
- Choose your accommodation wisely. Look for something central that is close to amenities, with good transport links.
- Expect delays. Traffic can be abominable and you will need to allow at least an hour to get to each meeting.
- Ship samples later. Vet your trade partners first then offer to ship samples post meeting if you like what you’ve seen.
- Call, don’t email. You’ll get far more traction if you pick up the phone. It’s easy to ignore an email.
- Speak clearly. It’s easy to be misunderstood and out of politeness, people in Southeast Asia will often nod along to what you are saying even if they aren’t quite following you. Slow down and avoid colloquialisms.
- Pack a decent medicine kit. It’s common to get a touch of ‘Delhi Belly’ if you’re not a frequent visitor to Southeast Asia.
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