Business Practices in Germany

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The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
It is extremely important to be punctual for your meetings! Arriving 15 minutes early is even well thought of. Do not underestimate the time for a car journey and if you really have a problem of timing, tell your contacts in advance. Plan meetings from 10 am to 4 pm, and avoid Friday afternoons.
First Contact
Get in touch by telephone first so that you can identify the right contact. Confirm his/her interest by e-mail, call back and arrange a meeting.
Shake hands.
How to Present Yourself
Mr/Ms, then a title if you have one ("Dr" for example), then your surname. University titles are important for Germans. You should always use the formal form of address.
Business Relations
The business lunch culture is less widespread than in other European countries. Business lunches will be organized later when your contact knows you better. It will then be an opportunity to go beyond purely professional issues. When it comes to paying the bill, if your trade partner buys you lunch, invite him/her to come to your country where it will be your turn to take him/her out.
People do not usually bring a gift to a meeting in a company. However, if you are invited to a private dinner, you should do so.
Business Communication
In general you will be welcomed and after a few questions about your journey, your contact will get down to business quite quickly. He will expect informative, well documented answers to his questions. Therefore, it is imperative that you prepare your meetings well so that you have solid arguments. Do not interrupt. The influence of the hierarchy is not so strong and the opinion of specialists invited to attend the meeting will be the determining factor. Avoid all forms of irony. If you are planning to give a presentation which requires the use of an overhead projector, make sure it is available a week before the meeting. First meetings are not very long, 1 hour maximum. When you get back, do not forget to thank your contact for his availability and take advantage to recall the main points you talked about.
Dress Code
Suit and tie, suit for women.
Visiting Cards
You exchange visiting cards quite soon after the beginning of a meeting. The visiting card should be in English. Unless you have already set up in Germany, it will not necessarily be in German.
For Further Information
German Business Etiquette
German Business Portal

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