When meeting someone for the first time, shake hands firmly, smile and make eye contact. There is no formal ritual when it comes to exchanging business cards in Greece, although it is a good idea to have one side translated into Greek and present the business card with this side facing up.
It is important to dress in a professional and stylish manner, especially when meeting business associates for the first time, as great value is placed on first impressions. Colleagues often address each other on a first name basis, although it is best to let the other person make the first move, especially when they are older than you or hold a higher position in the company.
Relationships & Communication
Relationships are the linchpin of business dealings since Greeks prefer to do business with those they know and trust.
They maintain an intricate web of family and friends to call upon for business assistance since they can be confident of their trustworthiness.
Nepotism is not viewed negatively and it is very common for relatives to work for the same company.
Greeks prefer face-to-face meetings rather than doing business by telephone or in writing, which is seen as too impersonal.
It takes time to develop relationships: this can be done in the office, overextended lunches, dinners, and social outings.
Never say or do anything that can be construed as challenging the honour or integrity of a business colleague.
Under no circumstances should you publicly question someone’s statements.
Greeks do not like people who are pretentious or standoffish.
Although business is relaxed, it is also serious. Acting informal before a relationship has developed is considered discourteous.
If your Greek business colleagues become quiet and withdrawn, you may have said or done something to upset them.
Business Meeting Etiquette
Appointments are necessary and should be made 1 to 2 weeks in advance, although it is often possible to schedule them on short notice.
Confirm meetings one day in advance by telephone.
Many businesspeople eat lunch between 1 and 3 p.m., so this is not the optimal time for a meeting.
Quite often it is not until the third meeting that business is actually conducted. During the first meeting, your Greek business colleagues will want to get to know something about you as a person. The second meeting is used to develop trust and mutual respect. By the third meeting, the business may begin.
Have printed material available in both English and Greek.
Meetings are often interrupted. Several people may speak at the same time.
Greeks will deviate from agendas. They view agendas as starting points for discussions and will then follow the discussion to the next logical place.
Although some business people speak English, it is a good idea to hire an interpreter.
Forming a personal relationship is critical to developing a successful business relationship.
Companies are hierarchical. Greeks respect age and position.
Business is conducted slowly. You will have to be patient and not appear ruffled.
Demonstrate how your product or service enhances your colleague’s reputation.
Do not lose your temper or appear irritated during business discussions.
Greeks are skilled negotiators. They quite enjoy haggling.
Decision making is held at the top of the company.
Imposing a deadline on reaching a decision may end the negotiations.
Contracts are often quite simple since the personal relationship dictates that accommodations will be made on either side should the need arise.
Business dress is as in most of Europe.
Men should wear dark coloured, conservative business suits.
Women should wear either business suits or tasteful dresses, preferably in dark or subtle colours.
Business cards are exchanged without formal ritual.
Have one side of your business card translated into Greek.
Present your card so the Greek side faces the recipient.