Best networking practices in Amsterdam

networking etiquette
Updated 2022-08-15 12:08

As half of Amsterdam is made up of people of foreign ancestry, the city is a rich melting pot of unique people. It should come as no surprise that the Dutch are very understanding and accommodating of different cultures. They're always curious to learn more about the outside world and aren't easily offended. However, it's still a good idea to brush up on the networking etiquette while living in Amsterdam. The Dutch will surely appreciate the effort you put in.

How to greet people in Amsterdam?

The Dutch are like any other Western culture where you greet one another by shaking hands. If it's a more casual situation (such as greeting your coworker who you're familiar with or a friend), you can go in for a hug.

When greeting a woman in a casual situation, you can give them three kisses on the cheek, alternating cheeks with each peck, starting with the right. The woman will simultaneously give you three kisses back on the cheek.

As you may have read in our other articles, the Dutch are very laidback and not very formal. This means that while you may call someone by their full name, or by “Mr.”, “Miss”, or “Mrs.”, they'll immediately insist you address them by their first name.

Make sure you greet people both when you arrive and leave a gathering. It's considered rude if you just stand around without making introductions or without letting people know you're leaving.

Good subjects to talk about in Amsterdam

As Dutch culture is very direct, practically all subjects are fair game. Naturally, if you're at a work party, you may want to avoid heavier topics, such as politics and religion. Although half of the Dutch population isn't religious, it still may be a subject that can lead to a heated debate. That may be something interesting to participate in at a casual gathering with friends, but not at a work event.

Body language in Amsterdam

When speaking with a Dutch person, you'll want to leave a bit of personal space of around an arm's length. As with many Western cultures, you'll also want to maintain eye contact as a sign of respect and sincerity.

The Dutch tend to speak in shorter sentences and will occasionally use hand gestures to emphasize what they're saying. Initial conversations may be a bit jarring, as they're very direct and blunt. The (generally) American attitude of being overly polite is seen as disingenuous, so if you're used to saying things like “I'm sorry”, “thanks so much”, and “excuse me” a lot, you may want to tone it down just a little bit.

Speaking to the Dutch can be particularly shocking if you're of British origin, where people like to dance around subjects delicately. But with some time, you'll adjust to their style of speech and may even adopt this attitude yourself!

Dutch networking is casual

The main thing to remember is Dutch networking isn't stiff at all. They do enjoy a good borrel, after all. A borrel is when you go for drinks with others, such as friends, coworkers, or club members. In fact, the majority of networking events you'll attend in Amsterdam will most likely be borrels.

What this means is you're essentially expected to drink alcohol at these events. Light, deep-fried snacks are served, and the Dutch love to wash them down with a bottle of Heineken or a glass of wine.

While drinking is accepted and expected at networking events, take care not to get too drunk. While the Dutch enjoy drinking, they frown upon anyone doing it in excess, unless you're at a pub crawl, of course.

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