With the 9th largest economy in the world, and a business-friendly environment, Canada is a great place to do business. From raw materials to manufactured products, and from agricultural produce to tech, cross-border transactions total imports are in excess of 730 billion dollars. Getting your piece of the pie means exploring opportunities, preferably in person, so you’re planning your business trip to Canada with high hopes. Use these tips to get the most out of your stay.
1. Base Yourself at a Commercial Hub
If you want to be at the commercial and financial hub of Canada, Toronto is the place to be. Choose accommodation that’s offered with corporate execs in mind. DelSuites, for example, offers top-class apartments at addresses that are sure to show you mean business. Whatever you choose, opt for a central location that allows you to cover business districts with ease.
2. Know Your Message
Although individual companies may have different cultures, most Canadians are very direct and to-the point. They’re very quick to spot double-talk and hedging, so be ready to be direct, succinct, and realistic in any pitches you make. Expect very direct questions too and don’t allow yourself to be caught off-guard by some very straightforward responses. Corporate double-speak will not be welcomed!
3. Business Formal
Canadians may have a reputation for being laid-back in informal settings, but in most industries, the dress code is business formal, or at the very least, the smart side of smart-casual. Be punctual for meetings or it will reflect badly on your professionalism – a sure-fire way to make Canadians skeptical about doing business with you. During business hours, most Canadians avoid alcohol, so save enjoying a drink with your business counterparts for informal socializing after hours.
4. Show Respect for French Canadians
French Canadians are intensely proud of their heritage. If the companies you are negotiating with have French-Canadian roots, show courtesy and respect by brushing up on a few French basics and courtesies. Offer documents in both French and English, using professional translators if necessary and let your business card give your credentials in both languages. Yes, it’s true that most French-Canadians are comfortable with English, but it is considered rude not to make an effort to accommodate their mother tongue. If you are doing business in Quebec itself, be ready to do business primarily in French.
5. Don’t Expect Rushed Decisions
Keep your pitch rational, rather than emotional. Don’t make exaggerated claims, and don’t expect a decision before the executives you have been meeting with have time to consider things very carefully. That means coming armed with facts and figures rather than a “salesy” pitch. Make sure that the information you present is verifiable, and show that you are trustworthy by always living up to your commitments.
Take Some Time Out to Appreciate Canada
Canada is an amazingly diverse and interesting country, and understanding the environment in which your counterparts do business means getting to know Canada itself a little better. That’s a great reason to see the sights and will add fuel to your small-talk during more informal get-togethers. Be ready to be pleased, and you will find yourself immensely satisfied with your Canadian experience. Will you clinch that deal? If your Canadian contacts are satisfied with the value of what you have to offer, the chances of success are very good indeed.