When first arriving at the office of a prospective business partner in Turkey, why not bring a small gift? It will be very well received, especially if it is something that represents your culture or what your business does.
When meeting new business partners for the first time, it is a good idea to get to know them on a personal level. Ask about your contact’s family (without being too prying or personal). Questions about children will always be welcomed.
When greeting, always greet the oldest person first; Turks have a great respect for the elderly.
When speaking, it is important to maintain eye contact since this conveys sincerity and helps build a trusting relationship.
Turkish people usually do business with those they trust, like and respect.
Turks are very proud of their country and will be happy to answer questions about their culture and history.
Most Turkish men love football and usually support one of three teams: Galatasaray, Beşiktaş or Fenerbahçe. A good way to ‘break the ice’ and establish rapport is to ask how their favourite team is doing. This will always produce a lively response.
Turkey has had a turbulent political history and you should try and avoid this subject wherever possible. Avoid discussing sensitive issues involving Turkey, especially Turko-Kurdish relations, Cyprus and EU membership.
There is a West-East divide in Turkey over the question of Islam. Generally, Eastern Turks are more conservative, whereas Western Turks, especially those in Istanbul, Ankara or İzmir are usually more westernised. Over time you will learn to recognise whether you are dealing with a more conservative or a more westernised colleague or company.