Personal relationships are everything in making good business, especially in East and Southeast Asia. I just spent 10 days in Seoul and also visited some neighbouring cities. A few remarks about Seoul and making business there follow:
- Traveling takes time, more than you might expect. Seoul is huge, home to 12 million people. About 20 million live in the city and the surrounding region.
- The subway is a very quick way of moving around, there are plenty of stations and coverage is good (it's the world's largest in terms of length). There aren't many EU cities where wearing suits in the subway is common, but in Seoul every third person using the subway may be wearing a suit.
- When you're in a restaurant with customers or cooperation partners, never pour drinks for yourself. You may be asked to pour, but this will happen a bit later. When you do, use your right hand to pour with. Your left hand is used to steady your right arm and show respect: the closer it is to the bottle, the more respect you are showing to the person you are pouring for.
- Learn how to use chopsticks before you go to Korea: if you're good at it, you'll get positive attention at social gatherings. 'Survival chopstick' is a nice dinner game. You must have some chopstick skills - if you don't, dinner will leave you a bit hungry.
The schedule for my visit to Korea was full. I attended two trade fairs and also visited many of our customers. DeltaTech-Korea, one of our co-operation partners, had arranged a seminar at the Korea Energy Show. I gave a presentation about Eigenor's applications in the wind energy sector. My visit to KOMAF, another trade fair (the Korean machinery fair), resulted in some new prospects in the CT area. Our technology was presented at a booth arranged by TEKES (in Korean!).
Several visits are usually needed before things really start moving. With active and well-connected cooperation partners, progress seems to be possible even faster.
Vice President, Business Development