Doing business in Russia – Effective Communication
Russia is a dynamic environment where you need to to be adapted to it. It leaves little room for improvisation and does not forgive the lack of preparation. On the other hand, Russia currently presents numerous opportunities for foreign companies, enhanced by their entry into the WTO (World Trade Organization): especially in the sectors that require modernization.
One if the most critical success factors to enter to the Russian market is overcoming the language barrier as well as having in count the cultural and social factors you must take care.
According to this, it is so important that you must enter the market with an attitude oriented towards presence, perseverance, prudence and patience. In other words nothing is going to happen very fast and you must be very careful when analyzing the opportunities.
Initially you should focus on achieving an adequate knowledge of the economic and sectors reality, as well as access barriers, as well as the culture of business, mentality and language.
Some guidelines or tips you must have in count when developing Russian Business relations:
Two fundamental values can be distinguished in the Russian culture of business:
- Collectivism, born of tradition, which makes cooperation and collaboration fundamental aspects. However, this does not mean that the hierarchy does not exist.
- The famous “Russian soul”, which makes business relationships revolve around personal relationships, understanding, shared moments and emotions.
To maintain a good communication with partners and employees, it is highly recommended to be in the place to maintain a personal and permanent contact with them, or getting a way to meet remotely, but visual, with them.
The first contact. Use email or fax, since postal mail is not very reliable. If you are preparing a business trip to Russia, inform the company you want to contact ahead of time.
The Russians like direct contact and they use the phone a lot. The secretaries filter the calls. Therefore, if you can not travel there but you can meet them remotely via video conference, it would be better than a cold phone call.
Meetings are canceled frequently. To avoid unpleasant surprises, try to confirm your meetings regularly.
Greetings/salutations. Russians feel more comfortable if a third person makes presentations.
The firm handshake is important (especially to men) and look the other person directly in the eyes.
It is usual to start the conversation with personal issues (for example, the family) to get to know each other better before starting to talk about business.
People introductions are made in order of importance. You have to say the full name and the position you hold in the company. It may also be enough to say the last name.
Do not forget the positions of the people you know, they are very important. When having more confidence, you can address your interlocutor by his/her own name and his patronymic (ending in “itch” for men and in “ovna” for women – It is derived from the name of the father or of some predecessor, it expressed the belonging of the person to a certain family).
Business and professional relationships often overlap with personal relationships. Although it is not mandatory, it is an important aspect of the relationship. For a Russian it is very important to create a climate of trust through a fluid relationship. A Russian will have no problem in showing his/her feelings and emotions, especially if he/she feels confident. Do not be afraid to do the same.
Giving gifts is usual in Russia. These show the quality of the person who offers them and highlight the importance of the meeting.
Choose personalized gifts representative of your region or country or that have the logo of your company.
Business communication. Presented ideas must be clear. It will be necessary to arm yourself with patience. The negotiations are often long and the Russians do not like to be rushed. Indicating that you are in a hurry can cause an effect contrary to that expected.
The Russians believe that giving in is a sign of weakness. They can be angry to press it. Stay firm.
No contract is binding until it is signed. Although an important part of the negotiation is carried out informally in a restaurant, the finalization will always take place in an office in an austere place.
Generally the way of dressing is very formal and conservative. Russians appreciate fashion and often spend a lot of money on designer suits. Dark or white shirts are reserved for special occasions. You have to be especially careful with your shoes, which should always be impeccably polished.
The women wear colored suits with a jacket and skirt below the knees.
The business card is essential. They are exchanged formally after making presentations.
If possible, one face should appear in English (or French) and the other in Russian. Offer the card by the Russian side.
You can include your college degrees on your business card.
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