Business engagements in Germany begin and end with the same simple gesture, a single hand shake. This gesture sets the tone for the entire ensuing conversation and symbolizes an important connection in a culture that otherwise places great value on maintaining a high level of personal space and formality.
Often conversations begin with a little small talk about the weather, the trip to the meeting or current events. If the business partners know each other a little better, they may exchange a little banter about their favorite soccer teams and talk about recent vacations abroad or a cultural event they took part in recently.
German business people usually have a structured style of conducting high-level meetings including an agenda which all participants receive ahead of time and can be adjusted in case of unexpected changes before the meeting starts. This increased level of transparency and clarity is a characteristic of the way many Germans also like to do business. It additionally gives Germans the reputation for being straightforward, efficient, reliable and well-prepared.
When you are attending a business conference, both lunch and dinner are also important elements of the conference. The German beverage of choice for such business meetings remains the good cup of java savored worldwide. Meals allow those attending to make personal contacts and to continue discussing business matters in a more casual atmosphere. Read ''Business Dinners'' to find out about the table manners you should keep in mind in Germany or our ''Business Etiquette Guide'' to prepare for your next business meeting.