Malaysia is a multicultural country in Southeast Asia which is well-known for its rainforests, beaches, mix of heritages, and its huge array of business opportunities. If you head over to Malaysia to do business, then you will also likely find yourself working alongside a range of nationalities, including people from China and India. Therefore, it is important that you are aware of the different cultures and practices that the people you will meet follow. 

Doing business with strangers can be difficult no matter how experienced you are, or where in the world you are based. But it can be even more of a challenge if you are in a different country. Therefore, we have put together our top tips to help you do business in Malaysia more easily. From the customs and practices that you should follow, to any lifestyle changes that could make your business plans easier to complete, we’ve got you covered.

Do Research on Malaysia Before Traveling

First, it is important to be aware of the fact that Malaysia is a Muslim country, and therefore you should have this in mind before your trip. For that reason, we also recommend that you take the time to research the laws in Malaysia and how they differ from the laws and customs at home. You should also consider this when scheduling business meetings. If you are looking to book in a meeting or appointment, you should avoid Fridays. This is usually a day reserved by Muslims for prayer. 

Similarly, it is important that you are on time for your meetings, as Chinese people are generally good at time keeping and your late arrival may offend them. However, Indian culture is a bit more relaxed towards time, so you may find that you must wait for a while. 

Know the Dress Code 

Doing business in Malaysia will also be considerably easier if you dress the part. This, again, is largely associated with the country’s customs and practices. It is important to stress that revealing clothes are inappropriate for both men and women. Instead, we recommend the men wear a suit, with a long-sleeved shirt, dark pants, and a tie. This is standard business attire. If you are a woman looking to do business in Malaysia, you have a few more options, including a traditional dress, trousers, or skirts. You will also find that headscarves are very common in Malaysia.

Find Somewhere to Stay

Finding the right accommodation when you are away on business can be a challenge and even though many people automatically go to book a hotel, there are other options available. For example, there are many rental properties available in Malaysia that will make your trip more comfortable, as well as easier. Staying in hotels can limit your freedoms in terms of how you spend your time. But if you are going to be working in Malaysia a lot on business, it would be more time and money efficient to rent an apartment instead. Rental houses in Penang, or Rumah sewa penang, are particularly popular amongst business travelers, and real estate company PropertyGuru can help you find the best apartment to suit your needs. They are Malaysia’s number one property website, so whether you are looking to rent or buy somewhere, PropertyGuru will be able to hook you up. Having a base in Malaysia will make business much easier while you are there and provide you with your own place to focus.  

Handshakes Etiquette

When meeting someone for the first time while doing business, your first instinct may be to reach out your hand to them. However, this is something that you should try to avoid while doing business in Malaysia. For example, physical touch between genders is not accepted so you could risk offending those you meet by attempting to shake hands with them. When greeting local women, you can lower your head to them to greet them and place your hand above your heart. When it comes to shaking the hands of the local males, you should wait for them to initiate a handshake. If they don’t, then we recommend you don’t either. 

Don’t Forget Business Cards

Exchanging business cards is a common part of doing business, but there are also some top tips that we can give you to help you get yourself noticed. For example, it goes without saying that your business cards for use in Malaysia should have a Malay or Chinese translation on the back. Similarly, if someone provides you with their business card, you should read it before putting it away. Don’t forget to use both hands when exchanging cards as this is another practice that is followed amongst businesspeople in Malaysia. 

While doing business in Malaysia is very similar to doing it at home, if you want to make the trip as successful as possible, you should be sure to immerse yourself in the country’s practices and customs to make connections with locals more effectively.