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Expanding your Company's Horizons

Doing Business in Brazil2013.07.01

    Brazil is on the radar of a lot of businesses at the moment as the future host of not only the next Summer Olympics but the FIFA World Cup as well. There will be a lot of business opportunities focused on Brazil over the next few years as a result. If you’re doing business in Brazil or with a Brazilian business, it’s important to do your research to learn about the country and its people. To get you started, here’s a short breakdown of some business customs:


    Points Worth Understanding:


    • Brazilians see business as an exchange between people, not companies. It is important to establish a personal bond during the course of your business together.
    • Seniority and hierarchy are respected in the workplace. The most senior staff member present at the negotiation will likely be the one making the decision.
    • You will be more likely to succeed in your business endeavors if your Brazilian counterparts like you and feel they can trust you.
    • The process of building a business relationship in Brazil usually takes time—you will probably not encounter a strong sense of urgency to get things wrapped up quickly.


    Business Meetings:


    • When possible, face-to-face meetings are most effective.
    • Make appointments for meetings two weeks ahead of time, and then call or write to confirm the meeting two days before the scheduled date. Brazilians usually take a long lunch, so keep this in mind when making an appointment.
    • Punctuality is adhered to in Sao Paulo and Brasilia, while in Rio de Janiero, being slightly late won’t be frowned upon. It’s worthy to know that last-minute cancellations or postponements are not uncommon in Brazil.
    • Both men and women should dress in dark business suits, and look polished. Women should have manicures. Brazilians take pride in their appearances, and expect others too as well.
    • Small talk is acceptable at the beginning of a meeting. Coffee is often served and some socializing encouraged.
    • Have your business cards ready to hand out to everyone at the meeting, and make sure you have them printed in Portuguese and English. Present the Portuguese side up as a matter of courtesy and respect for the native language, even if you are doing business in English.
    • Interrupting others to offer your opinion during a meeting is typical of the communication style in Brazil. At the same time, remain considerate of others in the meeting and don’t criticize any individual as the whole group may take it personally.


    Body Language:


    • Men shake hands to greet one another, making eye contact in the process.
    • Women greet other women with by kissing each other on both cheeks, starting with the left. To greet a man with a handshake, a woman should offer her hand first. If you are uncertain about how to greet a Brazilian colleague, follow their lead.
    • Culturally, it is quite normal for Brazilians to touch each other while communicating or speaking with someone. You may also see this in business.
    • Colleagues are expected to keep eye contact while addressing each other.
    • Two thumbs up is a typical way to show agreement or approval.


    More to Keep in Mind


    • When initially contacting someone about business, use the title and last name of that individual. Once you get to know someone, and meet them face-to-face, it’s common to switch to addressing that person by their first name.
    • Hiring a Brazilian team for the legal part of your business dealings might help speed things along, or aid in your planned-for business coming together in the first place. In addition to the legal team, some companies will hire a sort of middleman, known as a despachante, to assist in dealing with any necessary local bureaucracy.



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