Do business like a local.

Work Professional Etiquette

Every business culture has its quirks. Learn about Hamburg's professional etiquette, formalities and dress code and do business like a local.

The 101 of German Professional Etiquette

Doing business with Germans can mean a barrage of rules and regulations. Adhering to them can make many things a lot easier for you.

In a business environment, Germans, and North Germans in particular, tend to be straightforward and formal. Doing business in Hamburg is typically all about order, structure and precision. The private and the public sphere usually don't mix, so informal deals among friends or acquaintances are frowned upon. Of course, in a hip Schanzenviertel design agency, things are different, but in a conventional business atmosphere you are well-advised to keep the following points in mind.

  1. Under all circumstances, show up on time! Everything else leaves a disastrous first impression.

  2. Even worse: Cancelling appointments on short notice. Changes of plan are to be avoided.

  3. Respect privacy and knock on closed doors before entering.

  4. Address everyone by their title and surname until they invite you to use their first names.

  5. Shake hands firmly and briefly with everyone present, before and after the meeting.  

  6. Beyond the handshake, avoid physical contact of all form.

  7. Dress conservatively. Wear grey and dark colours, nothing flashy and little makeup.

  8. Cut to the chase and say directly what you think or want. They will do the same. In fact, Germans can be disturbingly direct.

  9. Private topics are usually avoided and discussing personal income is a no-go.

  10. Business meetings in Germany can take ages because of all the graphs and charts. Just sit it out.

With these tips in mind, you should be well on your way towards making a good impression. When in doubt, you can always throw in your own, foreign charm to win them over!