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Business culture

When doing business in Turkey please bear in mind...

Making appointments:

  • Arrange appointments well in advance and have it in writing if possible. A personal introduction or at least a letter of introduction will be of tremendous help for you in order to gain acceptance.

What to know BEFORE negotiating:

  • Business cards do not have to be translated into Turkish. Bring plenty and give them to everyone you meet at a meeting. When receiving the business card look at it thoroughly and show your respect. 
The pace of negotiation is quite slow in Turkey. Politeness is important, and negotiations may take place over plenty of cups of tea or coffee. Do not expect to get right down to business in a meeting with a Turkish business person. Some preliminary 'small talk' allows him or her to get to know you. Meetings start slowly, with many inquiries that may seem irrelevant to the purpose of your visit BUT it is a serious breach of etiquette to insist on getting to the point.

Business dress code:

    Addressing others:
  • In a family-owned business, the key decision maker may be an elder person. Remember that elders are always treated with much respect in Turkey.
  • You are expected to be punctual for all business appointments; however, traffic jams are frequent in Istanbul so allow yourself plenty of travel time.
  • Turkish business people who deal on an international level are usually able to communicate in one or more foreign languages. English is commonly understood, as well as German and French. If your contact person in Turkey is not able to conduct business in English then the company probably has English speaking people in their staff that might fill in or help. It is highly appreciated if you make the effort to learn at least a few phrases in Turkish.
  • Business and banking hours are 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon and 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Note that business executives generally arrive between 9:30 and 10:00 a.m. and return from lunch around 2:30 P.M.
  • On Turkish holidays one cannot expect to conduct business.
  • Turks may greet a close friend of either sex with a two-handed handshake and/or a kiss on both cheeks.
  • Business dress is conservative, with dark suits for men and suits and heels for women. Nevertheless, Turkey is very hot in the summer. Jackets and even ties may be removed in the heat. Women's clothing may be comfortable but should remain modest.
  • The mode of address is to use a Turk's first name, followed by Bey for men or Hanım for women. 

OR

  • ... use the surname, preceded by Bay for men or Bayan for women. For example, Mr. Mehmet Kar would be addressed as Mehmet Bey or Bay Kar. For Women: Ms. Suzan Soylu would be addressed as Suzan Hanım or Bayan Soylu.