Meeting and greeting in Bulgaria
Bulgaria on the face of it is still a fairly formal society. This reflects in the rather proper and reserved nature of initial meetings. Within the business context a firm handshake, direct eye contact and the appropriate greeting for the time of day suffices. The hierarchical nature of Bulgarians results in an emphasis on rank and position. As a result if people have official, educational or work titles ensure you use them. If you are unsure then simply use “Gospodin” (Mr)/ “Gospozha” (Mrs) followed by the surname.
The normal custom is for business cards to be exchanged on initial meetings but there is little protocol to follow. As a basic courtesy do not write on the card or treat it nonchalantly. If your company has been established a long time it is a good idea to include the founding date on the card as this gives credibility. Also add any academic qualifications to the card.
Until a relationship warms up the communication will be reserved and cool. However, once the other person as an individual rather than a foreigner, they will slowly become less formal and more relaxed.
Bulgarians generally have an indirect communication style when dealing with people whom they do not know well. They will offer roundabout explanations rather than offer a negative response; they prefer a non-confrontational way of doing business.
Business decisions are often heavily influenced by personal sentiments. It is therefore a good idea to invest time in relationship building. This helps overcome the initial communication barrier as well as increase chances of business success.