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Business Culture

Turkey - Business Culture

Turkish business culture is built on trust and familiarity; it is important to take the time to establish personal relationships with your Turkish contacts in order to succeed in business there. You will be judged on your personal characteristics but also on the mutual business benefits of your proposal.

Turkish businesses are hierarchical, many are family-run, and decisions are made at a senior level. You may not meet senior managers, however, until fairly late in the negotiations.

Arrange appointments in advance, preferably avoiding the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, and the main Turkish holiday months of July and August. Since most Turks are devout Muslims, meetings should be scheduled around the five daily Islamic prayer times. Be sure to arrive on time, as Turks place high importance on punctuality.

Normal business attire is conservative and modest. Men should wear business suits and ties, although jackets are usually removed in hot weather. Women should also wear business suits or smart, non-revealing dresses.

The usual business greeting is a firm handshake with good eye contact; men should wait for women to extend their hand. In Turkey, it is normal to stand closer to the person you are talking to than in most Western countries.

It is normal practice to address professionals by their occupational title alone, such as Doctor or Lawyer, alternatively you should address people using "Mr" or "Mrs" along with their first name, or "bey" (Mr) or "hanim" (Mrs) in Turkish.

Business cards are usually exchanged on meeting; you should present and receive cards with both hands, and ideally have your card translated into Turkish on one side.

There is usually some preliminary small talk at the outset of meetings, which may include discussion of personal or family details, as this is an important part of the process of getting to know you.

Your presentation should be clear and logical, stressing not just the financial benefits but also any other advantages to your contacts. Make good use of visual aids such as graphs and charts, which are popular with the Turks.

Meetings are relatively informal and unstructured and may be lengthy. It is normal practice for Turkish people to be involved in a number of different tasks at one time, so your meeting may be interrupted several times.

Decision-making can be very slow, especially as the negotiators are likely to have to consult senior managers. However, it is important to remain patient so as not to jeopardize the negotiations.

Business is often discussed over restaurant dinners in Turkey. It is usual for the host to pay, and appropriate to reciprocate several days later.

It is not necessary to exchange gifts in Turkish business culture, but if you decide to do so an inexpensive souvenir of your home company, or something with your company logo is appropriate.

If you are invited to a Turkish home, take a gift of flowers, chocolates. Alcohol is acceptable only if you are sure that the host drinks.

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