Intending to conduct new business in Azerbaijan? We offer the following business etiquette tips to help smooth the way:
a) To arrange a meeting in Azerbaijan an introductory letter is needed outlining your company, history and the purpose of your visit. It is always a good idea to have such correspondence translated into Azeri to ensure it is understood and it also makes you stand out. Personal contact and relationships are critical in Azerbaijan and it is important to follow the expected protocol.
b) Azeris tend to be pretty direct in their communication and a warm handshake is the norm when meeting for the first time – with your right hand when possible. Also give and exchange business cards with your right hand. When attending a meeting, be aware that Azeris are sensitive to status, title, who sits down first, who enters the room first etc. so make sure to follow their lead. Politeness is considered very important and is all part of the relationship building process.
c) Always arrive on time for meetings even though you may be kept waiting. Discussions normally start slowly over tea with small talk about topics which can seem totally irrelevant. However, this can be the make or break part of the relationship – if you can strike up a rapport, your business chances are significantly increased! It is best to allow your host to decide when business discussions should begin. You should always maintain direct eye contact when speaking as Azeris see this as a sign of sincerity.
d) Make sure to remain patient and polite throughout the meeting (and generally) as they can go on for longer than expected; just go with the flow. Be prepared to have several meetings to reach a final decision as they tend to be reached from the top down and take a while. Never rush anything or appear impatient. Expect a great deal of bargaining and haggling – Azeris are tough negotiators!
Are you considering doing business in Azerbaijan? Get in contact with Asinta Partner and local expert on employee benefits in Azerbaijan, MAI CEE via their contact form. They can help get all of your questions answered.