President Obama’s recent trip to Turkey has brought attention back to the country. A nation rich in resources, an established democracy undergoing liberal reforms and the possibility of joining the EU make Turkey one to watch for the near future. An already expanding export market-based in the manufacturing industries means doing business in Turkey is rapidly being recognised as a lucrative venture.
Doing business in Turkey however requires understanding the people, culture, etiquette and approach to business. By acquiring cross cultural skills, international business people can maximise their prospects of success in Turkey.
This brief guide to doing business in Turkey offers some key tips on how to approach business in Turkey, the etiquette you should employ and how best to present yourself to your Turkish clients, colleagues or customers.
Doing Business – Meeting and Greeting
When meeting, shake hands firmly. When departing, it is not always customary to shake hands although it is practised occasionally.
In the business context most women will shake hands with men. However, this may not be the case in Eastern or rural Turkey where people are more conservative. If unsure, wait for the woman to extend her hand.
When addressing a Turk the most common method is to call a man by his first name followed by ‘bey’ (pronounced bay). So, Ertan Gonca, would be Ertan Bey. Similarly a woman’s first name would be followed by ‘hanim’ (pronounced ha-num).
Where professional titles exist such as Doctor or Professor, always use them either on their own of before the first name. Curiously this is also the case with many other professions such as lawyers ‘Avukat’, engineers ‘Muhendis’ and managers ‘Mudur’.
When doing business in Turkey, initial meetings should always concentrate on relationship building. Engage in some light conversation to establish rapport. Questions about children will be welcomed. The Turks are proud of their country and will enjoy answering questions on their culture and history although be sure to avoid political history. Most Turkish men love football (soccer) and usually support one of three teams: Galatasaray, Besiktas or Fenerbahçe. Asking after their team’s recent fortunes will always produce lively and animate responses.
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