I give you some tips from my experience with Russian business people.

Export – import meetings are tough and hard. Exporting to Russia has many difficulties but with this advice I hope you will do it well.

Meeting Etiquette

The typical greeting is a firm, almost bone-crushing handshake while maintaining direct eye contact and giving the appropriate greeting for  the time of day.

Russian names are comprised of:

  • First name, which is the person’s given name.
  • Middle name, which is a patronymic or a version of the father’s first name formed by adding ‘- vich’ or ‘-ovich’ for a male and ‘-avna’ or ‘- ovna’ for a female. The son of Ivan would have a patronymic of Ivanovich while the daughter’s patronymic would be Ivanovna.
  • Last name, which is the family or surname.

In formal situations, people use all three names.

  • Russians are transactional and do not need to establish long-standing personal relationships before they do business with people.
  • It is still a good idea to develop a network of people who you know and trust.
  • Be punctual when doing business in Russia. However do not take offense if your Russian counterpart is not.
  • Patience is essential.
  • An indication that you have successfully developed a personal relationship is being asked for a favour by that person.
Business Meeting
  • Appointments are necessary and should be made as far in advance as possible.
  • Typical Russian schedules are constantly changing and everything takes longer than expected, so be prepared to be kept waiting.
  • Meetings are frequently interrupted. It is common for several side conversations that have nothing to do with the topic of the meeting to be carried on during the meeting.
  • Russians are not impressed by foreigners doing business in Russia who use special visuals, flashy PowerPoint presentations and the like.
  • Meetings and negotiations are slow.
  • Hierarchy is important to Russians. They respect age, rank and position. The most senior person reaches decisions. Russian companies are often driven and directed by one strong, central character.
  • Russians see negotiations as win-lose.
  • Russians view compromise as weakness. They will continue negotiating until you offer concessions.
  • Companies tend to take a short-term view of any given business opportunity.
  • Russians often use time as a tactic, especially if they know that you have a deadline.
  • Nothing is final until the contract is signed.
Business Cards
  • Business cards are exchanged after the initial introductions without formal ritual.
  • Have one side of your business card translated into Russian using Cyrillic text.
  • Include advanced university degrees on your business card.

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