• Business People
  • August 14, 2020
  • Czas czytania

How to build relationships with Russian business partners?

How to build relationships with Russian business partners?

Russia is a very important market in economic terms. The country is an important supplier of mineral resources, including energy resources, which is why many Polish entrepreneurs seek an opportunity to cooperate with Russians. However, despite its apparent similarity to our country's culture, Russia poses many administrative barriers. Therefore, knowledge of the specifics of Russian culture and its negotiating style is crucial for success on this market.

For historical reasons, it is a country constituting a certain racial mosaic in which many cultures and nations intertwine. Currently, 137 nations live in Russia, not including minorities of migrant origin. Russians are the largest ethnic group, representing nearly 80 percent of the population. Other nations to be mentioned are the Tatars - approx. 4 percent and Ukrainians - approx. 2 percent of the population. Minorities such as Chechens and Armenians account for 1 percent of the population. When it comes to, Russia, is a secular state, according to its constitution, however the dominant religion is Orthodoxy. Before meeting a counterparty, it's advisable to make sure about their religion, as nearly 10 percent of Russia's inhabitants profess Islam, which is governed by different laws in terms of working days. Poles and Russians, despite historical turmoil, praise cooperation on many levels, and due to the fact that Russia is an important country in the context of global investments, it attracts many new entrepreneurs every year.

Preparation for a meeting

Russian culture is considered to be a pro-partner one, where it is crucial to focus on the people you work with, build and nurture an appropriate network of contacts, and to gain trust, which often requires time. Egalitarianism is a very important issue here. Therefore, you should not show that you have more of something (e.g. assets) than the Russian partner. It is very discouraging and causes jealousy, even if it seemingly hard to notice. Punctuality is also an important thing to remember about, although it should not be required from Russian counterparts as they like testing the patience of foreigners. An important aspect will be to sent representatives holding equivalent positions as Russians to negotiations, otherwise the talks will be unofficial and will not bring you closer to achieving the desired objective.

Greetings

The Russian way of greeting is quite characteristic. This can be observed, for example, when watching the meetings of heads of state with Russian politicians. The greeting is usually accompanied by a strong handshake, and if a relationship is already established, there is also a friendly embrace and kisses on the cheek. At the beginning of a meeting there is also time to exchange business cards - make sure to read them before putting them aside. It is also necessary to prepare your business cards in two languages ​​- in Russian and, for example, in English.

If there is space for the so-called small talk, it is worthwhile to raise the topic of Russian culture, i.e. ballet, opera or literature. Russians tend to establish relations with partners based on cordiality, hence familiarity may prove to be an advantage. 

Negotiations

Negotiations with Russians are different than those conducted in Europe. They're long and loud. Nobody should be surprised by a raised voice, punching the table and classic "backing into a corner". In addition, Russians maintain constant eye contact with their conversation partner, which can be intimidating. Talks should be conducted in Russian. However, if we hold talks via an interpreter, one should speak looking at the Russian partner, not at the interpreter, so that this is not badly received. 

It is also important to present concrete solutions and proposals, because Russians have a principle of "He who says big, does a little." If we are only at the stage of establishing a relationship, it is worth remembering that Russians are outstanding strategists. It is not without reason that so many representatives of that nation win chess tournaments. Business is governed by zero-one rule so no compromise should be sought, as only with friends you can be equal partners in negotiations. For Russians, compromise is perceived as an insult to honour and a loss of face.  Negotiations in Russia are therefore a real play of forces, but it should be noted that the process itself could take months. The meeting at the negotiating table is the final stage and a more formal one. The whole "game" is played on the level of many specialists and there is no one specific recipe, because the stronger one wins. 

The famous drinking of vodka during conversations is also a myth. Those times are long gone, although after the end of negotiations one can expect to be invited to a restaurant for a feast filled with alcohol. However, under no circumstances you should raise the subject of the superiority of Polish vodka over the Russian one.

 

Iwona Sobczak

Iwona Sobczak

Public relations expert. Experienced journalist, PR specialist, trainer in business image, personal branding and communication. For over 15 years closely associated with the largest Polish TV stations, including: TVN, Telewizja Polsat, TV Puls.  As an author, she also cooperated with the press and web portals, including the magazines: Forbes,Twój Styl Man, Business Insider Polska, as well as online services: Onet.pl and TVN24.pl. She runs her own website "CEO Style" dedicated to imagecreation in business. She studied Arabic philology, political science and journalism.

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