Latin America is emerging as a major player in the business world. Or rather, it has been emerging over the last five years. Investors and large corporations like the fact that places like Mexico and the Dominican Republic are closer than China, which means more control and faster delivery. Plus the labor is willing, the infrastructure is developing as stable, communications networks are reliable and comprehensive, but most importantly the government is happy to help. More deals are being finalized with Dominican businesses, which means visitors to the country need to understand Dominican business etiquette.
Always shake hands with whomever you are meeting, every time you meet and with a firm hand. Exchanging an in-the-air kiss on the cheek may also be expected. In business dealings avoid discussions of politics as this tends to be a sensitive issue in the Dominican. Keep religion out of the conversation as well.
Approximately 85% of foreign Dominican trade occurs with the US. American traditions are very familiar to Dominican nationals. Yet, if you are the one asking for business in the DR then it is you who must be familiar with their traditions. For example, most important dealings occur over the main meal of the day, lunch. Trust comes in dealings with people once a relationship has been built up. Evening engagements, golf, tennis and other activities may also be scheduled.
The Dominican business community is considered the most aggressive in Central America and the Caribbean, yet no one appears as such. Dominicans are polite and friendly, but they are also extremely resourceful and master negotiators. When entering into negotiations with a Dominican business person remember you are engaged in a match of wits. Exaggeration in conversation is common for Dominicans. Their product will always be the best, or the biggest, or the first, and so on. Do your homework and be sure to know the truth before heading into the meeting.
In Dominican business circles, English is main language. However, do not think you can go into negotiations and meetings without any knowledge of Spanish. In fact, that would be a major mistake and an indication of weakness. Learn Spanish and learn it well. You will understand a great deal more in the conversations going on around you, and may even learn a secret or too.
In general, the wealthier the business person, the more formal their attire will be. On the other hand, just like in the movies, the richest of the rich dress however they please whenever they please. When going into meetings, wear a suit and tie, dress shoes and make sure to be very clean, and well groomed. A great deal about you and your business will be judged by your appearance.
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