Doing business in Chile

Chile is a strongly relationship-oriented culture, which means that a strong bond between potential business partners is more important than the matter itself.

Image: Jessica Sysengrath on Unsplash

Therefore, a good product alone will never be enough to succeed in Chile. Much more important for a fruitful business initiation are personal visits, and not too few of them, which serve purely to get to know each other and to build up trust on a personal level.

Telephone contact or written inquiries by e-mail rarely lead to success in Chile. Ideally, you already have contacts who can refer you to potential Chilean business partners. This can significantly accelerate any business initiation. Local business organizations can also offer assistance.

A powerful factor

Once a relationship has been established, the persons involved should remain the same for as long as possible. Chileans tend to do business with people and not necessarily with the company itself. If their trusted contact person changes companies, they often follow suit. With a new contact they would first have to laboriously establish a new business relationship. A good personal relationship between business partners is more important to Chileans than the business itself. The trustworthiness of a person is valued more highly than, for example, his or her professional competence. 

Once you have gained a foothold in the Chilean market, you should continue to work on your network. Networking is a powerful factor in Chilean business.

Never say no to a dinner invitation 

And so it comes as no surprise, that extensive business dinners play a big part in Chilean business life. In the beginning, these dinners are usually held at noon and often extend late into the afternoon. Later, when you know each other better, evening events are also common as well as private invitations to your business partner’s home. By the way, an invitation for drinks usually includes a dinner together!

Always bring plenty of time, try not to refuse the any of the food offered and return the hospitality you have received at a later date.

The better you get to know the Chilean business culture as well as your Chilean business partners, the smoother any business activity further down the road will be going. So learn more!

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