When doing business abroad, it is important to make sure you understand proper business etiquette for that particular culture before heading out on your trip. Mastering business etiquette means immersing yourself in the business traditions, customs, and mannerisms of the country you are visiting. The more you can appeal to a country’s business culture, the more likely you are to make a sale; here are some tips for mastering business etiquette in Algeria.
Corporate Culture in Algeria
Learning about Algeria’s corporate culture before mastering proper etiquette details can help you to better understand how to effectively communicate and adapt as different situations arise. Algeria’s corporate culture stems from its social culture which is a mix of French hierarchal culture and socialist egalitarian principles. This means that it is commonplace for lower ranking business subordinates to work closely with high ranking individuals such as CEOs or CFOs. The open door policy in the workplace allows each department to work together with business officials relatively harmoniously.
Initiating Business Relations
Algerians are open to doing business with major companies and third party affiliated companies alike. As per their business culture, Algerians like getting down to business immediately so when initiating communication, be sure to leave the small talk until after your proposition. Be sure to include vital details and estimates from the get-go and offer samples of your work or prototypes as soon as possible.
- Business Cards: Most Algerians do not carry business cards, but it is ok to offer one while doing business.
- Gift Giving: In Algeria, gift giving is a very important gesture. Make sure to offer gifts such as fruits, sweets, and other small yet enjoyable offerings. Always present the gift with either your right hand or both hands.
- Business Attire: Business attire is formal in Algeria. Men should wear a suit and tie and women should adorn a long, formal dress.
- Punctuality: Punctuality is not especially important in Algeria; however, it is still well viewed and encouraged.
- Alcohol: Even if you are offered an alcoholic drink, politely decline and instead ask for juice or mineral water.
Best Practices for Communication
Business communications in Algeria are centered more around phone conversations and fax than email and texting so be sure to initially reach out and ask which is preferred for future communications. When demonstrating or pitching a product or service, it is more likely to impress in person. PowerPoint presentations are found to be mundane in Algeria; therefore it is best to physically demonstrate your product or service. It is also very important for you to be ready for an interactive and lively discussion after your demonstration.
Greetings & Conversation
Algerians like to keep business separate from pleasure, so it isn’t suggested you invite your Algerian counterpart to dinner or lunch until after you have established trust. Greetings are an experience and should be treated respectfully, offer your hand when greeting others and do not remove your hand from an Algerian’s until you have asked about their health. During small talk, include anecdotes about your trip and how you are enjoying your stay in Algeria. It is best to not bring up sports, food, or alcohol. Always refer to men as "Monsieur" and women as "Madame." If an Algerian allows you to refer to them by their first name, add "si" before the name.
It is important to make sure that anyone who will be working on the project with you from your company is introduced to their Algerian counterpart. In Algeria, people and relationships are the most important elements of business deals; therefore, they usually want to work closely with their counterparts on projects and see the project through until its completion. Contrary to popular belief, the most difficult part of doing business in Algeria usually has to do with small administrative details. In most cases, Algerian companies want their foreign counterparts to handle taxes, customs regulations, and transportation. Be sure to include these in your negotiations so that there is no misunderstanding. During negotiations, be personable and friendly, Algerians find aggressive negotiation tactics offensive.
Dos & Don’ts When Working with Your Algerian Counterpart
- At dinner, pay for your own meal
- Do not ask about age or marital status
- Compliment on their knowledge and hard work
- Do know all the technical aspects of your product
- Maintain your sense of humor especially during negotiations
- Inform your counterpart if you are being replaced on the project
- Do not use foul or inappropriate language, even when joking
- Do not ask about your counterparts hometown or upbringing
By following these simple tips, you can master business etiquette in Algeria. The most important aspect of working with your counterpart is to gain their trust and allow them to participate fully in the business process. If you find yourself in a difficult situation, remember honesty is the best policy and always treat your peers with the utmost respect.
Image via Nicolas Raymond