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Belgium - Business Culture
Punctuality is highly valued, so arrive in good time. To address your contacts, use Mr, Mrs or Miss in Flemish or German-speaking areas, and Monsieur, Madame or Mademoiselle for French speakers. It is unusual to use first names in business. English is often used for meetings if different language speakers are present. Business cards are exchanged at the initial meeting.
Business attire is quite formal, with good quality suits being the norm for both men and women. Belgians have a good dress-sense, and sometimes judge people on the quality of their clothing.
Sometimes, negotiations are not conducted until after the initial meeting, which is primarily for building a working relationship. Some initial small talk is often used to help establish trust. Don't over-emphasise your achievements or experience, as self-importance is disliked here.
Belgians are receptive to new ideas, but decision-making can be a meticulous and slow process, and a range of parties including trade unions may have to be consulted. At the same time, your contacts will expect a prompt response to any requests, and deadlines are taken seriously.
Gifts are not usually given in business in Belgium, but a small, good quality gift is appropriate if you are invited to someone's home.
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