Turkish businessmen about the Dutch: trade mission to Turkey (4)

turkish businessmen about the dutch  Turkish businessmen about the Dutch

Maybe it is because I have always worked with people with Turkish background in the Netherlands, that I assumed Dutch business people work easily with Turkish business people. Or is it the research that was done in peacekeeping missions of the army, where relationships between the Dutch, German and Turkish soldiers were studied? Unexpectantly, it appeared that Dutch soldiers cooperate better with Turkish soldiers than with German soldiers, although the Germans are our neighbours, our largest trade partner and a country with whom DE-NL exchange at army level has been intense since many years. One of the reasons was that both the Dutch and the Turkish soldiers showed a practical orientation when confronted with problems during the peace mission, while the Germans were more rule oriented. Maybe I expected that to happen in business too…

Well, the trade mission to Turkey opened my eyes: it is not true and doing NL-TR business is not easy at all. The main reason for that is: culture. There are quite some cultural differences that prevent smooth NL-TR business relationships. I have spoken to both Dutch and Turkish entrepreneurs and heard many stories, also about huge des-investments because it really did not work out.  On several occasions I heard Turkish businessmen describe the Dutch as: STUBborn, NOT flexible and ARROgant. This mainly refers to the style of doing business and daily work.

For example the Dutch are planners. Before doing the job, they plan it all the way, often in many details. The Turks are not planners, if they want to do the job, they start it. They will find out down the road what the consequences are and react immediately to difficult circumstances. This is very difficult for the Dutch. If they have to work the Turkish way, they meet with mistakes that in their eyes are unnecessary, could have been prevented. That is stressful for them. Also, Dutch workers are used to respond to difficulties by some reflection, to find out what went wrong in the planning phase. In the Turkish style this means that they are not flexible and too slow. And then when the Dutch start to explain to the Turks what planning is and how to PREVENT problems, the final perception is there: the Dutch are stubborn and arrogant!

The good news for me is that these kind of cultural issues form the expertise of my company: there’s a world out there for us! And we are looking forward to services in NL-TR culture and diversity issues …

Other blogs about Dutch-Turkish business:
Women entrepreneurship: trade mission to Turkey (3)
400 years Turkey – the Netherlands: closing event

Read also: Politics and diversity in your organisation

Women entrepreneurship: trade mission to Turkey (3)

women entrepreneurship  Women entrepreneurship

The trade mission to Turkey was brought to my attention by the foundation Talent naar de Top, a Dutch organisation that brings female top talent to the attention of politics and organisations in the Netherlands, persuading them to set concrete targets to improve the number of women in top positions in the Netherlands. I really thank them for inviting me as it was a very good idea for me to join the mission to Turkey.

In Ankara we met with Angikad, a very interesting Turkish organisation of women entrepreneurs (see also http://www.angikad.org.tr). Turkey has quite some succesful women at top positions, for example 12% of the big companies have a female CEO. This is a figure that we can only dream of in the Netherlands, having maybe 1% female CEO in our top 100 companies. Also Turkey has much more female professors.

However, they have only 1 out of 25 ministers who is a woman, but that is politics and we will leave that out of our business discussions. It was interesting to meet the business women of Angikad. What is remarkable for me is that women are more often found in technical professions than in the Netherlands. For example the chair of Angikad is a chemical engineer and vice-president of this company.

Nevertheless, Turkish women face their own challenges. They have more top women than we have in the Netherlands, but less women working at all and the total amount of women working as entrepreneur is also less than average. Angikad is actively taking up the challenge for development, they are in many projects both nationally and on European level.

We were received very well in the Big Chef’s restaurant (a succesful chain of restaurants owned by one of the Angikad members), I can advice everybody to have lunch or dinner in a Big Chef’s restaurant, it was delicious!

Apart from general presentations, we also took time to talk individually on business opportunities; this was both very nice and inspiring, and I am confident the conversations we had will have a good follow up. Turkish business women proved to be energetic, concrete and ready to go on ideas: such a nice experience! I hope Angikad will grow, as well as the number of Turkish entrepreneur women and of course their business!

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  Matchmaking in a trade mission to Turkey

What is matchmaking?, people ask me. To be honest, I didn’t know myself just a couple of weeks ago but I have learned a lot by joining the trade mission to Turkey. A trade mission offers a complete program with visits to Turkish entrepreneurs, institutions, policy makers and the like. Moreover, it is possible to ask for matchmaking: if you do, a supportive staff will try to find individual entrepreneurs and officials who are willing to talk to you in a personal conversation to exchange information and business opportunities. This is called matchmaking.

I was very curious to see how this would work so I asked for matchmaking. Just a few days before we would leave for the trade mission, I got a concrete reaction to my request: 12 companies had shown interest to talk to me! This was very nice and after some emails forth and back I ended up with a schedule of 8 or 9 appointments in two days (so I missed a part of the official program, you can’t have it all). It was possible to have an interpreter but I thought it would be better to speak Turkish in case my counterpart wouldn’t talk English: having an extra person at the table just for the translation might create distance, I thought, even though my Turkish is limited.
The matchmaking would take place in our hotel in Istanbul where a complete saloon was reserved for all the business talks, see the photograph in top.

As I expected already a bit (I know Turkey) my schedule soon became a chaos. Just 2 appointments followed the planning, the rest was cancelled, put in again, changed once or twice, or the location changed > I had to rush through the terrible Istanbul traffic to go far into the Asian part, in a taxi with an angry driver who couldn’t find the place and blamed me for that (this is also very Turkish, fortunately I knew that already and didn’t take it personally – anybody who has been in a taxi in Amsterdam knows that the Dutch situation is not much better).

I used to think I was a flexible person but the matchmaking’s unique and last minute schedule changes showed me that there is more to learn in flexibility for me. I had to admit at several moments that I did feel some stress 🙂 Still, I loved the dynamics of it! And I had quite a few matches showing good opportunities that will certainly have a follow up. If you join a trade mission and they ask you if you want matchmaking: go for it! Be ready to learn and don’t forget to enjoy yourself because it can be quite an adventure…

Other blogs you might find interesting
Women entrepreneurship: trade mission to Turkey (3)
To do or not to do: trade mission to Turkey (1)

To do or not to do? Trade mission to Turkey (1)

  To do or not to do: trade mission to Turkey

We were about 80 entrepreneurs travelling to Turkey this week in a trade mission headed by our Prime Minister Mark Rutte. Some entrepreneurs already had their contacts or even their own company in Turkey: others were only considering doing business in Turkey and looking for the right contacts and good opportunities.

Beforehand I asked quite some people about their experience with trade missions, and how useful it could be. Most reactions were not too enthusiast, telling that the best results usually come from the Dutch entrepreneurs who are also in the trade mission, and not from the foreign contacts made during the trade mission. The general advice was: don’t do it, it’s probably not worth the time and money. The reasons for me to go anyway were that I love Turkey and the Turkish language in the first place, and moreover that I never joined a trade mission before and I like to try new experiences that cross my path in life…

Well, I was not disappointed, on the contrary, and my experience was confirmed by most other participating business (wo)men. The trade mission to Turkey was a vibrant happening in entrepreneurship and good relationships. And the results were certainly not limited to the network of the Dutch participants but also involved the many interested Turkish counterparts. Turkey is developing in a very fast way. Its entrepreneurs are happy to do business with the Dutch. They are determined and concrete on the road to more, better, easier, smarter. While the Dutch economy seems to have come to a stand still these days, the Turkish economy is growing and full of life. Anybody who is respectful and ready to give the credits the Turkish entrepreneurs and their government deserve for this, will be welcomed for business.

As a participant to this trade mission I can only say thank you to our Prime Minister and to minister Ploumen who went with us all the way, even though there were many Dutch-internal problems to form an excuse not to participate; to the Turkish government that made this possible and received delegates in various ministries to discuss mutual insights and problems and come to common solutions; and to the staff of Dutch ministries in The Hague, the Embassy in Ankara and the Consolate in Istanbul who were very very creative, helpful and full of care for all the participants.

So when you are invited to join a trade mission and confronted with the question ‘to do or not to do?’: just do it! Of course it is important to know the goals you have for it and to prepare it very well – but with the right optimistic, entrepreneurial spirit you will enjoy every second!

Other blogs you might like:
Women entrepreneurship: trade mission to Turkey (3)
Matchmaking: trademission to Turkey (2)
Turkish businessmen about the Dutch: trade mission to Turkey (1)
Dutch entrepreneurs then and now