Refresher on How to Prepare for Meetings with Foreign Buyers

Has it been awhile since you had an in-person meeting with a foreign buyer? Check out our refresher blog with all the tips and tricks you'll need to be prepared now that in-person activities and meetings are back.

In-person events and tradeshows are back! We’ve had more in person events the first few months of 2022 than we have the past couple years combined. 

Since we are all a bit out of practice when it comes to in person one-on-one meetings with international buyers, we thought it would be helpful to create a refresher blog on how best to prepare for meetings with foreign buyers!

This is a topic that we are very passionate about and have covered multiple times in the past.  To read last year’s blog ‘How to Prepare for Virtual Meetings with Foreign Buyers’ you can click here. To view our webinar last month ’How to Prepare for Meetings with Foreign Buyers’ hosted by our Food Export Helpline Counselor Dennis Lynch click here.

This blog will give an overview and some helpful tips and tricks for meetings, but if you want detailed instructions and examples, we recommend you watch the webinar linked above in its entirety.

General Do’s and Don’ts

Let’s start out easy with a few very clear do’s and don’ts.


  • Do be prepared and professional
  • Do take notes
  • Do explain your company’s export policy and procedures
  • Do ask questions about the buyer’s market for your products
  • Do be focused, diplomatic and patient


  • Don’t provide too much information
  • Don’t talk too much
  • Don’t talk too fast or look at your phone
  • Don’t eat unless they do
  • Don’t get frustrated without immediate success

Below we explore a few things that you should remember to do before an activity where you have meetings with international buyers.


Select the Right Markets and Buyers

Before any Food Export event where you are meeting one on one with international buyers you will have the chance to review a list of buyers and markets that they are representing.  It is very important that you carefully analyze the buyer’s profiles and evaluate them for the following factors to see if they are a fit for you and your company:

  • Attributes and products of interest
  • Capacity to import or not to import: (dairy, meat, alcoholic beverages, frozen, GMO)
  • Facilities, industry segments
  • Shipping and quotation preferences   
  • Consolidator in the U.S. and location (term of sale)

Do Your Research

While you are preparing for your meetings make sure that you are checking duties, taxes, and free trade agreements (FTAs) for all the markets you are interested in.  Below are several online resources that are available to help assist you with your research

You can also learn more about potential markets on our website with our Market & Country Profiles.  We have created in-depth pages for over 30 different international markets that give details about the market, as well as the retail, food service, and food processing sectors.

Reach Out Before Your Initial Meeting

Sending a brief introductory email to buyers in advance of your initial face to face meeting can be extremely helpful.  Below are a few guidelines to keep in mind.

Be diplomatic and friendly, but not ‘too’ friendly.  Avoid informal greetings like ‘Hey’, ‘Hi’ or ‘Thanks!’.

Think of this more as a memo than an email, try to keep it under 200 words.  If it is longer than that, consider making it an attached document and introducing that in a shorter email.  Time is valuable and we are all busier than ever, so you want to keep the introduction short and sweet and impactful. 

What should an introductory email say? It should explain the who, where, how, and why.

  • Introduce your company and yourself as well as your product line.
  • Explain why and how you are getting in touch with them – name the city and date of the meeting.
  • Provide your geographic location and distance in miles and kilometers from nearest port.
  • Identify your interest in meeting them based on their interest in sourcing like products.  

At the end of the email make sure to provide all of your available contact information including your website and social media content.

Know What Buyers Expect

The buyers that we find for our in-person events are extremely qualified and vetted through our international network of In-Market Representatives.  They expect U.S. suppliers to be equally qualified and knowledgeable about the export process.  Below are few basics that they will expect from you during your initial meeting:

  • The 6-digit Harmonized System (HS) code of your product/products
  • Your assistance in qualifying products for Free Trade Agreements
  • A basic idea of business practices and food trends in their market
  • Knowledge of their market’s labeling requirements, regulations, and documentation
  • Knowledge of international freight forwarders and wholesale food consolidators
  • Correct use of terms of sale for pricing and quoting
  • Sensitivity to export price escalation in transit and competitive pricing

There is a lot more we could say about how to be prepared for in person meetings.  To hear directly from our Food Export Counselor Dennis Lynch who advises hundreds of companies a year before they meet with U.S. suppliers check out his most recent webinar – How to Prepare for Meetings with Foreign Buyers

We hope to see you at an in-person activity sometime in 2022! Check out the Events Calendar on our website to see what we have planned for this year!