Dutch business meeting etiquette – read this to be successful

Dutch business meeting

Dutch business meeting etiquette – read this to be successful

Dutch business meeting etiquette – read this to be successful

(Last Updated On: December 18, 2023)

If you’re engaging in business in the Netherlands, adhering to Dutch business meeting etiquette is crucial. Understanding the Dutch business culture and societal norms, including punctuality and a strong emphasis on personal relationships and Dutch meetings, greatly enhances your prospects of success in dealings with Dutch companies and business partners. In Dutch business culture, meetings often emphasize active listening and effective communication, valuing personal life alongside professional commitments. Observing proper etiquette such as arriving on time, at least in Dutch society, utilizing business cards, and following a structured meeting agenda is essential. Dutch business people appreciate directness and honesty, yet building personal relationships holds a significant place in their approach to business, influencing company culture and future meetings. Maintaining a business casual demeanor while acknowledging the hidden agendas that might exist among foreign businesses is also advisable. Additionally, sending a thoughtful follow-up email can further reinforce connections made during the meeting, fostering stronger ties in this aspect of business relationships.


Dutch business meeting etiquette


How to build proper relations through communication

  1. Since the Netherlands already has a history in international trading, the Dutch are familiar with doing business with foreigners.
  2. Shareholders would ask how long your company is in business as well as your academic credentials.
  3. The Dutch have a close-knit business community and senior-level officers probably know each other already.
  4. It is wise to opt for a third-party introduction if possible since more bureaucratic and older companies will judge you based on how you and your company were introduced.
  5. It is important to show that the relationship between you and another shareholder or business person is beneficial to both of you.
  6. The Dutch like to take into account long-term perspectives when dealing with other businesses so you should make your company’s goals clear from that start.
  7. The Dutch give value to their own personal time so if you are trying to create a good working relationship, it wouldn’t be wise to have a business meeting late or in the weekends.
  8. They are known for their hospitality; however, this is reserved only for friends and family. In doing business, they are formal and reserved.
  9. They prefer maintaining proper distance when conducting business. They do not touch one another or demonstrate any emotion.
  10. They are very direct and straight to the point in communication.
  11. Sometimes, because of their straightforwardness, they sound too blunt.
  12. They don’t make use of hyperbole and they would also expect to be given an answer with a clear “yes” or “no”.
  13. Generally, ideas are discussed openly in meetings and everyone is entitled to give his or her opinion.
  14. Information is freely shared across different departments. Thus, corporate goals and strategies are made known to all the employees.
  15. Decisions are usually driven by consensus.
  16. It is important to appear modest and not to make any exaggerated claims about you or the company.
  17. The words you say are very important so making promises or claims that are later proven to be false will forever give you the label of being unreliable.


How to act properly during business meetings

  1. It is unwise to schedule your meetings in summer (between June and August) because this is usually the vacation period.
  2. Always be punctual for meetings as this is taken very seriously.
  3. Showing up late will brand you as someone who is untrustworthy and cannot adhere to deadlines.
  4. If you can’t avoid a delay, you should at least give your partners a call with apologies and a valid explanation.
  5. Never cancel any meeting in the last minute as it will risk your business relationships.
  6. Meetings are always formal, so avoid pleasantries and chit chat.
  7. Meetings should strictly adhere to an agenda, including the time to start and end. Never deviate from your agenda.
  8. It is important to keep direct eye contact while you are talking.


How to make negotiations

  1. They like to do business directly, so they do not appreciate small talk.
  2. Communications should be direct to the point.
  3. Make sure that any arguments you make are rational and not emotion-driven.
  4. When confirming your statements, utilize facts and figures.
  5. They are detail-oriented so business will be conducted slowly.
  6. Decision-making is done through consensus. All people concerned will be consulted.
  7. Avoid confrontational behavior and high-pressure tactics.
  8. Once you make a decision, make sure that it is final.
  9. Contracts shall be strictly enforced.

While not an exhaustive list, understanding Dutch business etiquette, particularly concerning business lunches and the general business setting, is crucial when interacting with Dutch business partners or employees. Dutch people often value direct communication and appreciate punctuality in a business setting. In Dutch culture and society, observing these norms is essential for fostering positive relationships during virtual meetings or face-to-face interactions. Implementing these insights into Dutch business etiquette can significantly contribute to a successful business meeting with your Dutch partners.

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