South America Living

9 Tips For Doing Business In Colombia

Get To Know Colombian Corporate Culture
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1. Colombians are normally punctual in business, although they may be up to a half-hour late. The best policy for foreign business people is to be punctual, but prepared to wait. Don’t get angry if a 12:00 p.m. appointment doesn’t begin until 12:30 p.m. Excuse yourself if you are late.

2. “In an hour or two” may mean tomorrow or next week. “Tomorrow” seldom means tomorrow and may mean next week. Don’t get offended if someone says they will phone you tomorrow and then calls a week later.

3. Colombians want to know you personally before they do business with you. You must develop a relationship with your counterparts before they will consider you trustworthy. Dinners out or at one another’s homes often precede the cementing of a deal.

4. Always allow your Colombian counterparts to bring up the subject of business. Be aware that this may take awhile. Meetings may be slow, with quiet, deliberate discussions.

5. Follow up a meeting by sending a letter summarizing the main points and what was agreed upon.

6. It may take several trips to complete a business transaction. Colombians prefer to do business in person — one can only get “so far” by phone and fax.

7. Maintain eye contact during conversations, or you may leave a bad impression.

8. Contracts may be long and detailed. Put the key aspects of agreed-upon points in writing.

9. Third-party contacts are vital to business success. You should hire a local distributor, representative, salesperson and/or lawyer.

Follow these rules with honesty and integrity and you should be good to go in Colombia.

Suerte!

[Colombia 2015]




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