Iranians may appear formal and stiff, especially with a foreign business partner, and may take some time to become friendly (remember the in-group/out-group distinction discussed in chapter 2). Be prepared to spend time establishing your relationship by making small talk, and don’t think of this time as wasted. Imagine yourself as a farmer preparing the soil for sowing, turning the sod, watering, and, most importantly, waiting patiently for the seed to germinate and bear fruit. Effort and time are the main ingredients of every personal relationship; in Iran, the same is no less true for a business one.
In keeping with the importance of collectivity, group values, and the ingroup/out-group distinction in Iranian culture, Iranians prefer to conduct business with those they know and trust, or at least with those introduced by such people. As a result, it is almost essential that you find a “way in” for every company you would like to do business with. Your first contact could be the staff in the commercial section of the Iranian Embassy in your home country; they should be able to give you information on local representatives and events that you can use for networking. Any Iranian friends or acquaintances you have are bound to know people you can contact for help and introductions.
Make an appointment at least four to six weeks in advance of your trip. It is advisable both to telephone and e-mail to confirm the time and place about a week beforehand, as well as after you have arrived in Iran. On the day before a meeting, it is often worth calling to verify the meetIng and the time;