Importance of business meetings
Cypriots spend a lot of time trying to establish good business relationships. In order to get to know you well, they may invite you to drink coffee in a Kafenio (a typical coffee shop) or share a lunch together, before bringing up the subject of business. The exchange of information or ideas that begins during informal meetings are essential to building a long-lasting relationship based on trust. A business meeting can be followed by a lunch in the office or a dinner in a restaurant, organized by your Cypriot business partner. You should ask your host whether there is a local speciality or something they recommend that you should try from the menu.
Business meeting planning
In order to set up an initial business meeting, you should request an appointment in advance by writing to the company and then confirm with a follow-up telephone call or email. After the confirmation, an agenda should be circulated by the host company that outlines the main points of discussion for the meeting.
Negotiations will not take place during an initial meeting because this is considered too soon in the business relationship. So, it is important to be patient and allow plenty of time for discussions to take place. Cypriots enjoy the art of negotiation and like haggling before a deal is reached.
When meeting, Cypriots usually smile and shake hands while maintaining direct eye contact. On entering the meeting room, you could greet your partners in Greek with ‘kaliméra’ for ‘good morning’ or ‘kalispéra’ for ‘good evening’. At the end of the meeting, you should say goodbye to each person individually.
How to run a business meeting
You should arrive punctually for a business meeting, but you can expect that you may need to wait for your Cypriot partner to arrive. Your host should introduce you to the other participants at the meeting. You should begin by introducing the company you represent with a brief but complete presentation. During a meeting, be prepared for a flexible approach to the agenda with some changes in the topics to be discussed and allow for frequent interruptions.
Follow up letter after meeting with a client
Negotiations and discussions will normally continue after the meeting, before a partnership is established or a deal reached. You should maintain personal contacts and share as much information as possible about the negotiation or project, in order to nurture the trust of your Cypriot business partner. When the negotiations are finished and if a deal is successfully reached, you should prepare a written contract, which will be strictly followed and respected by your Cypriot partner.
It is usual for your Cypriot counterpart to offer you a coffee before the meeting starts or for a break in the discussions, to go outside of the office to a local coffee shop. You should not refuse to drink coffee or tea with your host as this would be considered very impolite. A business meeting can often be followed by a lunch in the office or a dinner at a local restaurant, organised by your Cypriot partner. In traditional local restaurants, there is not always a menu and you should ask your host what they recommend or ask the waiter what they suggest.
A popular drink is Cypriot Brandy, which has a good mild taste and Cypriots sometimes drink it sour with lemon squash. Starters typical of the region include ‘Yemista’, which are stuffed vegetables, and the famous ‘Koupepia’ made with stuffed vine-leaves.. Meat dishes are typically in the form of ‘Souvla’ which is cubed pieces of lamb or chicken skewered and grilled, or ‘Shieftalies’, which are small sausages, or ‘Kleftiko’, which is made with lamb or goat wrapped in foil and baked in the oven. A traditional meal can’t be complete without the famous Halloumi, which is a salted semi-firm cheese similar to Feta.
Business meeting tips
Throughout Cyprus, you should maintain a high level of professionalism and pay attention to what you are saying, so that you do not inadvertently offend someone. In Northern Cyprus, you should remember to avoid pointing your finger directly at anyone and showing the bottom of your shoes or soles of your feet, if you are not wearing shoes, as such gestures are considered extremely offensive.