Although English is widely spoken, you would do well to learn a little Spanish. Even if your Spanish is choppy, you will be much more respected then the other business person who brings along a translator. It will demonstrate your ability and willingness to work within a culture rather than foisting your culture upon your potential partners.
When you intend to have a few business meetings in Mexico, it is strongly recommended to use two-sided business cards as well as have your proposals, brochures and other hand-outs translated into Spanish. You run the risk otherwise of your contact feeling a little miffed for not being able to read what you’ve given them.
Although gifts are appreciated in most cultures one needs to be careful while sending flowers – the colors have specific meanings. For instance, unlike in the States where yellow is used to indicate friendship and joy, in Mexico yellow is the color of death and mourning.
Meet and Greet
Time is a fluid thing in Mexico. English speakers are so well known for their punctuality that there is a special phrase, “Hora Inglesa” (English time), which indicates promptness. Not so for Mexicans, who may be quite late. Don’t think that gives you permission to be late. You are the guest and will be expected to be on time and show some patience for your clients. Also, don’t expect a meeting to adhere to a rigid format. Many Mexicans are highly creative and have a great appreciation for train of consciousness work that may seem to lead them off the topic but that they feel is to the benefit of their company.
Status and position are important in Mexican corporations. Make certain that the meeting participants are of equal rank. If your company sends subordinates then your potential client will be insulted. If your top managers find they are meeting with subordinates then they are wasting their time as nothing that is discussed will be acted on.
Always a Fiesta
Talking about food and drink, you need to be aware of Mescal. It is a drink made from cactus juice, similar to Tequila, only it comes with a worm in the bottle which will be eaten by the last person served a drink from the bottle. Be prepared if it is to be you and also how to go about, if you want to avoid it.