Doing Business in Germany

Author: Johan Van Hamme

Doing business in different countries of Europe helps you understand the cultural diversities and influences. Knowing about factors like work culture, etiquette and negotiating patterns of a country before doing business there is extremely essential for the success of the venture.

Germans have a reputation of being to the point and extremely professional. So is it true that most of their interactions are rather dull without any humour?

Read on and know more:

  1. Germans have a natural aversion towards uncertainty while doing business. They prefer things that are strategically planned and neatly documented. Facts, figures, research and analysis are almost mandatory in Germany, if you want your clients to take you seriously. A slip-up in any documentation can be perceived as frivolous and unprofessional behavior.
  1. Germans are often labeled as “cold” people. Exactly how true is this? Do they have an attitude problem? Well, not exactly. Germans are very private; so don’t expect to talk about children, pets or spouse over your business meeting. They prefer keeping their professional life and personal life as separate as possible. Also, most of them have a hard time building trust. So it is best to give your client his space; as the awkwardness will automatically wear off once he gets to know you better.
  1. In Germany it is considered rude to communicate on first name basis in professional relationships. Reference with professional titles may be seen as a sign of good manners. While meeting a group of people, greet each individual with a firm handshake.
  1. Germans are sticklers for time; so being punctual is an unwritten rule. Remember coming early is considered as rude as coming late. German work culture can be stressful and they really value their own time as well as the time of others. So late or early comers are definitely not welcome.
  1. Unlike Italy, small talk has no place in German business meetings. So please refrain from cheesy banter or slapstick jokes. However relevant and intellectual humour may be taken in good stride.
  1. Germans prefer to have their schedules planned weeks in advance. So make sure to schedule your meeting at least couple of weeks ahead. In fact, even a long conference call is best planned in advance.
  1. The word formality is not a “mere formality” in Germany. Things like greeting the senior before greeting anybody else in the room is very vital. Also, don’t just enter the meeting room and choose your place; let them tell you where to sit.
  1. Being dandy or charming is almost pointless with Germans. They are interested in result oriented projects and hard-core facts. Please do not try to speed things, as they take their time to come to a decision and really dislike rushing to conclusions. Previous success stories and high professional qualifications may be mentioned to ensure sincerity on your part.

Doing business in Germany may seem like an overly-painstaking task, but here is the good news. Once you prove yourself, there is no looking back. So you can look forward to a long-term business relationship.

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About the Author

Be aware of cultural differences and understand doing business in Germany and across Europe. Take the European cultural diversity and various other aspects into account striving for “best practice”. Prepare strategies in anticipation of meetings with European contacts. Secure effective integration into European businesses.