Telephones, the internet, travel and Skype have all made the world feel like a smaller place. This has enabled business to be done on a global scale as many countries have similar common interests. It is very common for meetings and conferences to take place via Skype and business people travel all over the world every single day for very important meetings. Germany has one of the strongest economies in the world so it is very common for business meetings to take place there, and with the UK Brexit vote in June, there may well be opportunity for future deals without the involvement of the EU. If you’re a business person travelling to Germany in the near future, then this handy guide is just the resource you need.
Much of the hard work of any business meeting is done in the preparation of the meeting itself. With international meetings, this means organising your transport and travel at the earliest opportunity. Your passport should be valid, ideally with six months left to run, and remember to apply for the E111 card here, in case you need access to medical treatment while in Germany. As well as booking your hotel, it is also important to book your transport from the hotel to the location of the business meeting. If you’re hiring a car and driving yourself, that is fine, but make sure you are familiar with the local area and the customs of driving in Germany. Finally, go over your meeting notes as many times as possible. Germans are known for being thoroughly organised and they expect anybody they are doing business with to be the same.
In the world of business, practically everybody speaks English these days, and your meeting in Germany is likely to be the same. While nobody is expecting you to be fluent, it is only polite to learn a few key phrases that will help you get by when encountering locals in bars, restaurants and hotels. Locals take well to tourists who make the effort and you are likely to be far more respected if you do so. It may even break the ice ahead of your important business meeting.
Business meetings in Germany are treated as very serious occasions so all humour and jokes should be seriously avoided. Traditionally the oldest or highest ranking person always enters the room first, and a firm but brief handshake is customary at the start and end. Compliments and small talk should be avoided at all time, Germans prefer to discuss only matters of genuine interest and substance. Sports, travel and food are good topics of conversation, as is beer due to the proud German heritage of brewing some of the finest beers in the world. German residents are generally very into their politics and usually open to discussing political affairs, however you should avoid such conversations unless you are 100% sure of what you are talking about.