Initial business meetings are usually formal, as business is a serious matter and must be treated that way. Even though the first steps towards a personal relationship may have taken place in a restaurant, it is important to avoid being too casual and friendly when appearing for a meeting. Men are expected to wear a suit and tie. Women should also wear smart business suits and ensure that they keep their shoulders, arms and legs covered at all times.
Conservative attitudes are still common in Turkey. However, on the whole you will find a wide mix of people and attitudes. At the start of the meeting, greet your Turkish partner with a firm handshake. Most women will also shake hands with business associates, although some Muslim women will be more conservative and not shake hands. If you are unsure, it is better to wait for a woman to offer her hand first. Once women are on more friendly terms, the handshake on meeting may be supplemented with a kiss on each cheek.
Gestures are significant in Turkey, but may be confusing if you are not aware of their meaning. Nodding your head forward and down indicates “yes”, while nodding your head up and back indicates “no”. Shaking your head from side to side indicates that you haven’t understood something.
In the summer the weather can be very hot and humid, especially in Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara. It is then acceptable to wear just a shirt with trousers. In most cases it is not necessary to wear a tie. Women are advised to refrain from exposing their legs and arms and to ensure clothes are not tight-fitting. Men should not wear shorts.
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