Both the Flemish and the Walloons consider that punctuality is important in business meetings and in general. The Flemish can be a little stricter regarding this aspect.
2. Language differences
Belgium has three official languages: French, German and Dutch. Most Flemish will also speak French and Belgians are known to be bilingual and even tri-lingual. It is polite to show consideration when doing business with Belgians and lean a few basic phrases so you can adapt to a Walloon or a Flemish business environment.
Face to face communication is important in any business relationship. When making introductions in Belgium the general rule is to firmly shake hands (a gentler squeeze when meeting women). Belgians will start conversations with an “ice breaker” topic and foreign entrepreneurs can expect a warm welcome.
4. Using titles
Individuals are not usually addressed by their titles. An exception to this is done in case of university professors or lawyers. First names are only used after some time and if the other party allows you to.
5. Business meetings
Business meetings usually take place in a formal setting. Appointments are necessary and they will be scheduled by the person with which you are meeting.
6. Dress code
The dress code in Belgium is conservative: dark colored suits jackets or business suits and conservative dresses. The dress code can be a little less formal in young hi-tech companies.
7. Gift giving etiquette
Business gifts are not that common in Belgium, although if you decide to offer some sort of reasonable gift after having successfully ended a business transaction, it should be modest and neutral (no flashy business logos on the gift)/
Dining can take place at a restaurant or at home (although this is reserved for family and friends). Toasts are usually given by the host of guest of honor. It is polite to stand up during the toast. The Flemish raise their glass twice during a toast: at the beginning and at the end.
9. What to avoid
Certain topics and behaviors are best avoided in Belgium. Some examples include pointing or using over-expressive hand gestures, asking personal questions, talking about the wages, racial minorities or making a point out of the Flemish-Walloon differences.
10. Doing business in Belgium
Belgians can be direct in communicating their business intentions. However, when starting a business you can expect to encounter a certain degree of bureaucratic steps. Investors in Belgium
should be prepared to adapt to a multicultural and open country.