The networking do's and don'ts in Porto

The networking etiquette in Porto
Updated 2023-11-12 08:19

Cultural, religious and political differences can be felt while traveling within most countries, which is even more relevant if you are a foreigner coming to a city or country for the first time! To avoid potentially awkward situations when networking and trying to conduct business, it is better to get a heads-up on the do's and don'ts in Porto.   

Greetings in Porto

Greetings are a huge deal in Porto. Upon entering a grocery store, a coffee shop, a school class or basically any other place (which obviously included a business meeting) make sure you voice a general greeting to the people already inside the room. People who arrive and remain silent are usually seen as rude, even if you don't know anyone in the room. Just say "Good Morning", and you are free from the judgmental looks.

Also, don't be startled if someone from the opposite sex greets you with two kisses on the cheek. Even though most people stick to a formal handshake within the work context, it's not that rare for some individuals to get a bit closer than you might be used to back at home.

Business lunches in Porto

Especially in the north of the country, it's quite common for business meetings to take place around the table. To cater to everyone's tastes and preferences, most people just pick a traditional Portuguese restaurant, where everyone can just order whatever they want à la carte. That being said, feel free to share any food allergies, gastronomical restrictions or dietary options beforehand — it is the safe way to go!

At the end of the meal, it is customary for the inviting party to pick up the bill, although both sides can agree to “go Dutch” and just split the tab equally.

Punctuality in Porto

Portuguese are not known for being precisely on time. Still, and even though business meetings are often 20-30 minutes late, it is still required to arrive no later than 5 minutes past the given time. Needless to say, you should always give the other party a heads-up in case you're running late. Otherwise, you may come across as inconsiderate.

Gift giving in Porto

Though not as common as it once was, gift-giving is still a part of the Portuguese business culture. Still, there are a few rules to be aware of. Refrain from super expensive gifts (that is, anything above 50€), and rest assured that your gift options are relatively flexible: traditional alcohol from your home country or local pieces of clothing such as a shawl (for women) or a tie (for men).

On the other hand, do not offer flowers or perfume. These are considered intimate and might give the wrong impression! Not to mention, it is hazardous to offend someone's allergies and end up awfully embarrassed.

Controversial topics in Porto

No matter how relaxed everyone seems to be around each other, there are certain topics that should be avoided in a business meeting. Those generally include politics or religion, as well as themes that may lead to social unrest. Please bear in mind most of the debates are counterproductive and lead nowhere, so these are definitely topics one should not use as a conversation starter.

Be that as it may, Porto's people are still amongst the friendliest you will find in Europe, so there are no forbidden topics at all. Use your common sense to pick conversation topics and go with the flow. You will see it is much easier than it looks, even within a work context!

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