Business relationships in the Czech Republic are built on familiarity and trust, and you are likely to have to make regular trips for meetings with your Czech business counterparts. Czechs are often very cautious when dealing with new business contacts, and initial meetings are held just for the purpose of getting to know each other. The reserved Czech manner may initially be perceived as a little cold and impersonal, but they are actually a warm and hospitable people.
It is essential to make appointments in advance, preferably in writing. English and German are commonly used when communicating with overseas visitors, although it will be appreciated if you translate your written correspondence into Czech. Try to arrive early for your meeting, as punctuality is highly valued in the Czech Republic. Business attire consists of dark suits.
The normal form of greeting is a firm handshake, with good eye contact. Status is important here, and personal or professional titles should be used when addressing people; first names are not generally used in business. Business cards are exchanged at meetings, and should include details of any academic or professional qualifications.
The Czech business culture is formal and hierarchical: decisions are made by senior managers and rarely questioned by their subordinates. Negotiations can be long and protracted, as the Czechs pay great attention to detail, and like to follow established procedures. Prepare your presentation thoroughly, and back it up with lots of evidence and data, but avoid hard-sell tactics. Czechs like to avoid conflict, and may indicate disagreement by their body language, or by giving an indirect answer rather than a directly negative response. Decisions may be delayed until after the meeting, and you should be prepared for a lengthy wait, due to the systematic decision-making process and the complex bureaucracy.
Despite their formal business culture, the Czechs like to hold long leisurely lunches, over which business is often conducted.
It is not normal practice to give gifts in Czech business, but a small gift such as wine or flowers is appropriate if you are invited to the home of your Czech business contact.