Frankfurt's networking etiquette

networking etiquette
Updated 2019-10-09 13:56

Integration is essential in Germany, especially at the workplace and during networking events. Frankfurt is a significant financial centre and adapting to the environment means respecting its business etiquette. Knowing the finesse of good behaviour brings contacts, opportunities and opens the doors to the city. While the city has many international influences, the business networking etiquette is similar to other German cities. The only differences remain to be the ones between institutions.

Languages spoken in Frankfurt

Speaking German is an absolute point of advantage, as it is the spoken language between colleagues. Even in international firms, the primary language remains German. Besides, many minority languages like Turkish, Russian, Italian or Balkan languages are spoken by the other expats and immigrants, so knowledge of an additional language is always a plus.

First contact

Germans may seem slightly reserved for the first time meetings, but this is the most crucial time to leave an impression. Maintaining a positive vibe and eye contact is especially important for occasions like interviews. It is also quite important to give enough personal distance in these meetings, and if necessary quietness and privacy. When speaking to a person, titles are also significant. In the business world, people tend to be called by their last name and a title (Herr or Frau), and if an additional title is known (like Doctor), it should also be mentioned.

Building a connection in Frankfurt

Since Frankfurt is a business-oriented city, personal relationships are secondary to work. Values, punctuality and good work are well respected and can be a cornerstone a good business relationship. Germans tend to keep to their home privacy and do not like to mix personal life with work. Generally, it is easy to understand their ideas about business as Germans are quite straightforward. The business world, especially in large corporations, tends to be hierarchical and academic backgrounds are important. Germans have a high social conscience, and while they are reserved, they genuinely care about topics like sustainability and human rights. Creating friendships at a workplace is not fast and easy, but it is worth it. Germans are kind and generous friends, which can also bring fun in a city like Frankfurt that offers plenty of opportunities to socialise.

Business meetings in Frankfurt

Organising a good business meeting shows competence and professionalism. It is important to have a well-prepared agenda that has been explained ahead to all of the members. Punctuality is a must, as well as good preparation. Data prepared in German is the best way to present, even if English is the spoken language. Some business meetings can also be over lunch or dinner, which often is a sign of trust and good intentions. Following the restaurant etiquette is essential like not discussing business while eating, or starting before the hosts says Guten Appetit to all. Frankfurters may like to eat Grüne Soße, or sausages, but also some fast food options like the all-time Döner Kebab can be acceptable. Apfelwein is the preferred drink of choice.

Negotiation in Frankfurt

When trying to get a job position or a business deal with Germans, it is important to understand that it is not easy to convince them. Germans are competitive, ambitious and sceptical, which is why it is vital to have a constant and serious approach. When discussing a topic, a direct approach is usually respected, however, decision making is quite a slow and complex process, and it should not be rushed. Informal behaviour is rarely liked, and jokes, slangs or confrontational behaviour almost never bring any good chance of getting a deal. A good and strong handshake after a meeting is also a good sign.

Networking events in Frankfurt

Visiting networking events like fairs or presentations brings a lot of opportunities. However, to get the right attention, well-mannered behaviour and preparation are necessary. It is good to do a little bit of homework and get well-informed about the participants of the particular event. Also, giving maximum attention is essential, and most fairs have presentations which say a lot about the goals of a particular company. Interrupting or showing off in such cases doesn't bring much. However, approaching after is important, and while Germans are not too comfortable with compliments, a useful comment about a presentation can be appreciated. Short and decisive introduction and presentation, as well as exchanging business cards, are the best way to get in touch in the business world. Once the meeting is done, contacting via mail is usually a nonaggressive and polite way to remind someone of a past meeting. Remembering details of the exchanged conversation can also seem nice, however, without trying to be overly friendly. Germans are direct, and if interested, they will express it.

Understanding the networking etiquette in Frankfurt is essential. The city runs on business deals and corporate communication, and it is the primary fuel of everyday life. Daily meetings are practice, and they make perfect with time, which is an indicator of adapting to the spirit of this European business centre.

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