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Learning the Business Customs of Austria

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When doing business in Austria, people prefer to have third-party introductions, but this is not necessary. Austrian business people will be impressed with how long your company has been doing business successfully, as well as any high educational degrees you may hold. When you introduce yourself, make sure to dress very nicely and conservatively, as your clothing will be inspected to reflect your personality. Men should wear dark suits, and women should wear nice suits or dresses with accessories.

When communicating with Austrian business people, you should have good manners and act seriously. Everything is done formally. Business meetings seldom have jokes or drawn-out small talk. It does not look good to display emotions or exaggerate any offers or proposals. Austrians respect authority in the business world, which is reflected in how they will treat people. They may also act very blunt and direct when making a point or telling you what they think.

You should always address Austrian business people by their honorific titles. If you are speaking to them directly, use the formal form of “you,” which is “Sie,” unless you are invited to use the informal you, “du.” People may address you by your last name, as they will not feel comfortable addressing you otherwise.

In terms of meetings, appointments are essential and they should be scheduled 3-4 weeks in advance. Avoid scheduling meetings during vacation seasons, which include the month of August, around Christmas, or a week before Easter. Show up on time, and never cancel a meeting at the last minute, as this could sever the relationship.

While presenting something, it must be direct, accurate and to the point. You should cite points and be prepared to back up anything that you state. When you arrive at the meeting, wait to be told where to sit, as there could be an important pre-determined arrangement. The meeting will probably go by an agenda that has definite beginning and ending times. After a meeting ends, you should follow it up by sending a formal letter of what was agreed upon and what steps will be necessary in the future.

During negotiations, be aware that Austrians care more about establishing an important, lasting relationship with the other party rather than making any quick sales. Many companies are small, so you may meet face-to-face with whoever makes decisions. Meetings go by slowly, so you must be patient.

When exchanging business cards, you should have one side of your card translated into German to be polite. You should also include any academic degrees you may have.

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