One of the main issues that foreign businessmen face when launching their products to the Russian market is how to deal with the Russians. The Russian partners – what kind of partners are they? Our PR agency will put you wise about it.
Gone are the days when bears, vodka and balalaika were used as stereotypes of Russia. The business culture has changed significantly in Russia over the past 20 years and is now much closer to the western one. However, there are features, which should be considered.
Attitudes towards foreigners
The harsh faces on the streets should not confuse you. The Russians love foreigners and are always ready to help. It was here, where public relations a la russe begin. You can check this out for yourself on closer acquaintance with the partners. Soon, the serious tone will be replaced by a friendly slap on the shoulder and an invitation to visit. By the way, if you accept it, take wine, sweets and flowers along with you. Flowers should not be given in even numbers and avoid giving yellow flowers.
Hire an interpreter or learn Russian. It’s no joke. 80% of the population do not speak any foreign language. Certainly, good command of English in a business environment is normal, but usually residents of Russia often speak only Russian. And by the way, your partners will be delighted, if you try to pronounce a couple of phrases in their native language.
It is better to notify the inviting party about the goals and subject of your visit. The Russians like to be well stage-managed for negotiations. Executing minutes of the meeting or preliminary agreement certified by signatures on both sides is the ordinary course of business.
Do not schedule your trip for the end of July - August. This period is unofficially considered a leave period in Russia, and many key persons of the company may not be available.
Organizations usually hold working hours from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM (or from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM). It is preferable to fit the official part of your visit within this segment.
Dress Code and Negotiations
In Russia, there is a saying "a good dress is a card of invitation, a good mind is a letter of recommendation." It is crucial for the Russians to make a great first impression. Therefore, your partners are most likely to look as if they had just come out of a bandbox. They will listen to you carefully: the Russian businessmen are open to new ideas, especially to those, which come from the Western business culture.
The Russians have a great deal of self-irony and often admit that punctuality has never been their strong point. However, when it comes to serious events (deals, press conferences, etc.), they observe punctuality. The Russians can be late for work or not the most important meeting. The locals tolerate this. If you do not - it is worth discussing this point in advance.
Friendship for years is often struck up at work here. Sometimes people discuss very personal matters in the office, using their work as collective counseling sessions. Same deal with the partners, if the Russians consider that they know each other well enough.
The Russians are warmhearted, and if you are asked how you are doing, this is just what they mean. They are ready to listen to and sympathize with you. And expect the same attitude in return. In general, the Russians don’t mind any kinds of personal contacts and are always focused on humanly attitudes. This should be taken into account in any conflict situations.
This implies that the Russians are ready for long-term cooperation. They really want to make friends with you and build a long-term mutual business.
Hierarchy and Manners
В компаниях, как правило, существует четкая вертикальная иерархия, где более старший по должности управляет своими подчиненными. Впрочем, демократический подход побеждает и решение часто принимается на совещании и с учетом общего блага. Так же обязательная часть этикета здесь — уважение более старшего по возрасту.
In recent years, a generation of Western-oriented businessmen has grown up in Russia and reference by name is quite common. However, there are conservative companies, where they prefer respectful patronymic. The same may apply to members of the management and the older generation.
- conclude a bargain in a restaurant (it’s better to celebrate it there)
- keep too far distance
- take local law lightly
- look into the eyes and shake hands firmly
- not be afraid to talk about personal and family matters
- set yourself up for long-term cooperation
Understanding the characteristics of the Russian partners and employees will help you arrange your own business in Russia more effectively. And our PR-agency is always ready to help you promote your brand in the Russian market.
PR manager PR Formula - PR for foreign brands in Russia