Each country and culture is different in the way that they interact and do business. Customs are important and if you are going to do business in Australia then there are a few things you need to know. Australia has a reputation for being laid back, but don’t underestimate us – we can still be professional powerhouses when it comes to business!
1. It is all about relationships
Australians are a warm and friendly bunch with a good sense of humour. So it is no surprise that a big part of the Australian business culture is about relationships. Many businesses enjoy a strong word of mouth referral source and a good reputation is highly regarded. Networking and personal introductions are highly valued. So be open and courteous and you will enjoy the Australian hospitality and opportunities will present themselves.
If you are heading off to a business meeting in Australia then a suit and tie for the men and a suit and heels for the ladies is the conservative expectation. Particularly in the major cities a more formal approach to your clothing is expected. For less formal meetings, or in regional areas then a more business casual approach such as business pants and shirt is fine.
The growing startup culture has in some areas relaxed the dress code, but if in doubt check the standards for your industry.
We might be laid back, but make sure you are on time for meetings. We judge you on your handshake, so make sure it is firm and you make eye contact.
The beginning of a meeting usually contains some personal discussions to break the ice and get everyone comfortable, so don’t expect to dive straight into the business elements.
It depends on who you are meeting and the context of the meeting. However, for formal and important meetings it is expected to be held in an office or boardroom. For less formal meetings many people meet at a coffee shop or cafe. Australian’s love their coffee so make sure it is good!
After our initial small talk we are ready to get down to business. Make sure your mobile is on silent or switched off so you can give your full attention to who you are meeting. Be direct, to the point and well organised in your presentation. Australian’s like you to be honest, direct and clear in your presentation. They are profit-orientated so keep that in the forefront. Australian’s also like a bit of humour, so don’t be afraid to throw in a few tasteful jokes.
Phone and email are used for general communication. Send a thank you email after an initial meeting or summarise key points in an email after a phone conversation. Text messages should only be used for people that you know well.
6. Restaurant Meetings
Restaurant meetings are well liked in Australia. If you are the one ‘selling’ something then you should pay the bill. If it is an important meeting with a valuable client then you should pick a well respected restaurant. Make sure you make a reservation, there is nothing worse than turning up and discovering they are full and ending up in a food court.
Australian’s hold their fork in their left hand and their knife in their right. When you have finished your meal place the knife and fork together on the plate so the waiter knows to collect it. Australia doesn’t have a tipping rule and there is no set amount, but Australian's will tip for exceptional service.
Australian’s are friendly and fun to work with and do business with. Take heed of these few simple rules when working with them and you will have a successful business relationship with Aussies!