Business Practices in Turkey

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The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
- Do not launch into risky political subjects, such as the Kurdish and Armenian questions which are very sensitive issues. Find out about the very rich history of the country and learn a few words of vocabulary in order to flatter your Turkish contact and show him the effort you have made.
- Get rid of the idea that we are in an exotic, developing country as people in the West like to think. Turkey is still an unknown country yet it is a real industrial power, present on world markets.
- Never confuse the Turks with Arab countries, be it culturally, politically or economically. They detest this comparison and consider that they have nothing in common with these countries except religion, though Turkey is a non-religious country, unlike its neighbors.
- The Turks are combative businessmen who know the machinery of the market economy very well, but who also work a lot on affect.
First Contact
Set up a meeting at least a week in advance. If your counterpart does not speak English very well, take a translator along if possible.
In general, greetings are in English. Saying hello in Turkish, "Merhaba", the sign of an effort on your part, will always be appreciated by your Turkish counterpart.
How to Present Yourself
- Do not launch directly into negotiation as you may be rushing your Turkish counterpart. Take the time to talk about yourself, lighter subjects such as Turkey, your trip, your visits, your feelings in the country and even your family (a sacred value in Turkey and especially children). Your contacts will enjoy getting to know you personally, before your company, to know who you are and what you are worth.
- After introducing yourself and exchanging some personal points of view without running out of time, you can get to the heart of the matter by introducing your company and its objectives.
Business Relations
Maintaining human contact is very important. Closeness is often the mother of success. It can be done by telephone, greetings cards, but especially by personal meetings. Do not hesitate to meet your contacts again in person at trade shows, in their offices or invite them to your country of residence.
In Turkey, it is often the person receiving the visitor who gives a gift or invites the visitor to a restaurant. If you go to Turkey and meet in the offices of a Turkish businessman, he will at least offer you a light meal (you must always accept), sometimes a gift (merchandising products, books...) and a restaurant meal. If negotiations go well, and it is necessary to continue them, he will invite you to dinner in a good restaurant and will even let you into his private life by inviting you to his home.
Business Communication
Never think that things are settled. The Turks cannot pronounce the word "NO". They prefer expressions like "Bakariz=We'll see", "Düsüneriz= we'll think about it".
Dress Code
Very well-groomed, professional dress.
Visiting Cards
After the greetings, the first thing to do is to exchange visiting cards. There is no particular formality involved in giving cards such as can be seen in Japan.
For Further Information
CODA, Business Development Council

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Experts Views (1)
  • Business Practices

    In Turkey, government offices and banks are open Monday through Friday, and are closed on Saturday and Sunday. The opening hours for government offices are from 8:30 am till 5:30 pm, with an hour lunch break during 12:30-1:30 pm.

    Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) on 27 Apr 2011 related to Business Practices in Turkey

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  • Hong Kong Trade Development Council...

    Government Trade Promotion, Hong Kong SAR