Business First Article — German & French Consuls General and European Market Link Agree

Business First reporter, Kevin Eigelbach reviews Louisville event where German & French Consuls General join European Market Link to discuss export opportunities, issues and strategies.  View original article:


Oct 22, 2013, 2:19pm EDT

Doing a deal in Germany? Arrive 15 minutes early … and more tips on doing business in Europe

Kimberly VanLandingham shared tips Tuesday for businesses trying to export to and do business in Europe.

View Slideshow
Kevin Eigelbach | Business First

Kimberly VanLandingham shared tips Tuesday for businesses trying to export to and do business in Europe.

Reporter-Business First
Email  | Twitter

Kimberly VanLandingham told a story this morning at a breakfast roundtable discussion on export strategies in Europe that illustrated the differences between American and German business cultures.

Suppose an American schedules a business meeting with a firm in Germany. The day before the meeting, the American sends an email asking if the meeting can be delayed for an hour.

The American sends a one-line email without a salutation. The German firm agrees to the time change, but sends the agreement in a very formal email complete with a salutation and with best wishes.

In most European countries, it’s considered rude to send business emails without a salutation and other formalities, she said. And it’s never OK to reply with a one word “OK” or “yeah,” as we do here.

To continue the illustration, suppose the American shows up right on time for the meeting. He’s already blown the deal because in Germany, it’s customary to arrive 10 to 15 minutes early so pleasantries can be exchanged before the actual meeting begins.

Germans value order and diligent implementation, she said. And they are not afraid to tell you when you have messed up, she added.

VanLandingham spoke at a roundtable sponsored by several local groups, including the World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana, the World Trade Center of Kentucky, Greater Louisville Inc., the metro chamber of commerce and the law offices ofBingham Greenebaum Doll LLP, which provided the meeting place on the top floor of the National City Tower.

Other speakers included Christian Brecht, consul general of Germany in Chicago, andGraham Paul, consul general of France in Chicago. Each of them did his best to sell the attendees on doing business with their countries, and each also asked them to support the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership being negotiated between the United States and the European Union.

Paul agreed with VanLandinham’s observation that in France, unless otherwise agreed, business isn’t discussed at lunch. Lunches are long and provide an opportunity for businesspeople to get to know one another, he said.

“And don’t mix your wine with Coke,” he joked.