Doing business in Europe might seem like an easy plan to carry out, and in a lot of ways, it is. The flights aren’t too long, businessmen can generally speak English, you have solid infrastructure, and the business processes across borders are similar. The thing is, it can be difficult to establish relationships and credibility if you’re unfamiliar with how to act when doing business in Europe.
Build your credibility to pave the way for your European business venture by means of the following:
It’s about what you know
Rather than who you know, a European will gauge your worth by what and how much you know about current news, historical events, and the world, in general. For them, a good businessperson is intellectual and well-educated, and should have no problems discussing the day’s topics and events.
Be flexible on financing and well-informed on price.
When doing business in Europe, researching on financing and product price is crucial, and is information that you should know beforehand. This not only puts you in a good position to discuss the financial aspect of your business, but also lets you stay on top of your game by consistently being in the know when it comes to pricing and finances.
Dress for the purpose of blending in
Do away with the mindset of dressing to impress. Rather, go for subtle elegance and dress to blend in. Europeans are not really partial to flashy and overly showy outfits when doing business, so go for a look that screams subtle elegance. Opt for neutral or dark colors and classic yet high-quality accessories in the minimum, and keep the flashier clothes to a night out on the town on your free time.
Err on the side of formality
Traveling to Europe for business is a bit like a wedding that you’re invited to attend: almost everybody is well-dressed and on their best behavior, albeit a bit stiff. Greetings are formal, handshakes and welcome kisses are exchanged, and proper table manners are observed. So rather than risk being underdressed and under-prepared, it’s best to err on the side of formality and arrive ready with your proper dining and mingling etiquette.
Discuss business over a meal
A lot of the rapport and trust-building happens over dinner or a lunch meeting. Often, even decision-making happens while both business parties are drinking or eating. This is a way for prospective business partners to size each other up, giving them ample time to discuss while comfortably tucking in to their plates and glasses of wine.
Time is money
Just like how ECG lead wires connect the patient to the ECG machine, time is your connection to your prospective business partners in Europe. But rather than the focus being on how many meetings you can fit into a day’s schedule, in Europe, it’s more of giving sufficient time to every business meeting in order to fully discuss and debate over the agenda at hand. This is based on the belief that allowing enough time to discuss ideas would lead to better results.
Be extra careful about giving gifts
This is a grey area even in many European countries where gift-giving is traditionally a part of business dealings. It can be seen as either showing great respect, or as something similar to a bribe. There’s no rule of etiquette that says you should avoid giving gifts, but should you decide to do so, you’ll need to do research and check on the culture of the gift recipient’s country before settling on a gift to present to your business meeting partners.
Just like how you ought to think before you speak, you’ll need to give a lot of thought to how you do business abroad. Knowing how Europeans build business relationships, act in meetings, and make business-rooted decisions can help greatly in carrying out a successful business venture in Europe.