Business Practices in Portugal

Overview by
The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
Principles appreciated in business are: courtesy, formal relations, mutual trust and respect.
It can be useful to set up a network of business acquaintances. It is rare to use the informal form of address, and academic titles are always used. People who have the equivalent of a Baccalaureate plus 5 years of study (except architects or engineers) are addressed as "Doutor" (Dr). Formal dress is essential.
People are not always punctual. It is best to confirm your appointment or meeting the day before, by e-mail or by telephone. A lot of business is done or concluded at the table. Business meals, especially lunches, are a dearly-held tradition and can last a long time.
First Contact
The first meeting is the most formal. In Portugal, business relations are very personalized and usually you will always liaise with the same person. Arrange meetings a month ahead of time, avoiding June (when there are many public holidays), August (school holidays) and December (Christmas and the end of the financial year). Avoid coming to see your contact during a trade fair. He will undoubtedly be hassled by hordes of customers and will have less time to talk with you.
Shake hands with your contact and address her/him by name, preceded by a title such Mrs or Mr. If you can use "Doutora" or "Doutor" (respectively feminine and masculine) you will score points. On the other hand, avoid saying "gracias" instead of "obrigado" (masculine) or "obrigada" (feminine) or mixing up any other Portuguese or Spanish words.
How to Present Yourself
Begin introducing yourself by saying Ā« Muito prazerĀ» (pleased to meet you), then say your first name and surname.
Business Relations
Avoid acting too coldly towards your contact. As your business relationship progresses, the Portuguese come to see you as a friend.
In business, gifts are exchanged, especially around Christmas and New Year, when it is customary to give chocolates, wine or books.
Business Communication
Be patient as negotiations can take a long time and you may have to wait for decisions to be made.
Avoid confrontations or pressure tactics, but do not hesitate to debate and defend your point of view. A very precise written contract will make the agreement official.
Dress Code
Discreet and stylish, rather conservative for the first meeting, then adapted according to the appointment.
Men wear classic, dark suits, while women wear plain suits.
Visiting Cards
Visiting cards are exchanged at the beginning or at the end of the first meeting, without any particular formality. Job titles are often written in English.
For Further Information
Executive planet

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