Business Practices in Mexico

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The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
First rule:  Business relationships are personal relationships, time has to be invested to build a relationship because Mexicans do not establish a business relation with people they do not know.  It is important to be always in contact with the business partners.
First Contact
The first contact is usually done by electronic mail or telephone.
In Mexico, the hierarchy and status are still very important, make sure that you deal directly with the person who will make the decisions, and negotiate with the persons of the same hierarchic level.
Physical contact and cordiality are essential to be trusted and understood by a Mexican.
Businessmen will shake hands, usually a few instants longer than they do in European countries.  Once the relationship has become a friendship, the hand shaking will be followed by a light embrace.
When you meet a business woman, a hand shake is formal and proper.  Some women might approach you for a kiss on the cheek, you must do the same giving her a light kiss on the cheek as well (only one).
How to Present Yourself
In Mexico, most people have two (or even more) names: the last name is composed by the paternal and maternal surnames.  When writing a letter or an e-mail, Mexicans will write their given name followed by their first last name and the initial of the second last name; verbally they will use only their given name and the first last name.
Professional titles are very important, find out the title of the person you will be speaking to and always address him as: "Doctor", "Professor", "Engineer" or "Advocate", etc. and followed by the first last name.
Business Relations
Mexicans are naturally smiling and cordial, because of that, it is important to show an authentic interest and have a brief conversation about the family, the weather and the country (because there is a strong national identity feeling) before starting to discuss business.
Mexicans often use the familiar term of  "you" ("tu" in Spanish - verb is "tutear"), so they might ask you to use it when addressing them.
If you receive an invitation to attend an informal reunion at a Mexican home, do not refuse it, but it is not advisable to discuss business in these reunions.
Offering a gift is not essential to close a business deal in Mexico.  However, it is considered as a detail of good intentions.  Avoid giving very expensive gifts that could cause embarrassment to the person who receives it.
Business Communication
E-mails are used for general communication, but in business, hardly ever a deal is closed by e-mail or telephone.  Mexicans prefer looking into the eyes of their partner when signing a business agreement.
The official language is Spanish, but most businessmen speak English fluently.  However, Mexicans appreciate when foreigners make the effort of speaking Spanish.
Dress Code
In general, the proper dress code for the business environment is more formal than in other European countries.
In finances, it is very common the use of  a suit and tie.  In the agriculture and fishing sector, it can be more relaxed, jeans, shirt and jacket are appropriate.
Women's clothing can be elegant and conservative.  It is recommended to wear suits or casual dresses, make-up, high heels and perfume.
Visiting Cards
The use of business cards is strongly advised.  Once you receive the card of a business associate, you must place it on the table, in front of you, and then hand out your card, without any specific formality.
For Further Information
Enterprises Center Mexico - European Union

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