Nigeria: busy and bustling
Although many endemic problems remain when trying to develop business in Nigeria, steps have been taken to tackle institutional and corporate corruption and things seem to be moving in the right direction.
Do research on the Nigerian company you visit before you arrive. Are you dealing with an internationally influenced subsidiary of a global MNC or a locally owned and managed business? Most local companies will be very hierarchical. Although organisations are hierarchically structured with decisions made at the top, do not ignore lower ranking officials – they may still be highly influential.
Age is worthy of respect in Nigeria so perhaps your delegation should reflect this fact. It is important to develop good, long-term relationships in Nigeria. Try to be patient at all times – the more you push, the further away the decision might become.
Although punctuality can be very patchy, it is always best if you show up on time, so be careful to allow enough time to negotiate the heavy traffic. English is very widely spoken and you are unlikely to meet any internationally-oriented business people or government officials who are not fairly fluent. Try to address Nigerians using their titles (if they have one) as this shows respect to the status of the person.
Remember to shake hands with everybody when you enter a room and go through the obligatory, fairly lengthy introductions with warmth and good grace. Be aware that Nigerians are likely to stand quite close to you. This should not be seen as threatening.
Dress smartly as your relative importance may be very largely judged on your appearance.
Try to avoid using your left hand when handing things to people, eating food etc and remember that a large part of the Nigerian population are Muslim so be aware of Muslim taboos on alcohol, pork, gambling etc.
Take care at all times and never go anywhere with people you do not trust or know quite well.
Share your Nigerian business interactions.