As the largest country in the world, Russia offers immense business opportunities for willing investors. The Russian Federation spans 10 time zones and has approximately 142 million people, giving it the ninth largest population in the world. Greater political stability and the diversification of Russia’s economy, combined with increased foreign investment flows, higher domestic consumption and rising oil prices have contributed to the superpower’s continuous economic growth over the last years.
Russia’s work ethic is increasingly influenced by western culture, but the Russians also have a unique set of values and attitudes and a different approach to communication, negotiation and decision-making which could affect anyone doing business in Russia. The following tips will help you ensure make the most of your experience doing business in Russia:
- Address colleagues by using their ‘patronymic’ name, based on the first name of the father. Always try to find out the best way to greet your counterparts before any meeting in Russia and be aware that addressing new contacts with their Christian name is considered impolite.
- Since personal and informal contact is crucial when doing business in Russia, be ready to spend some time establishing rapport before discussing business. Getting past the initial formality and reticence you may experience with your Russian colleagues might take time but it will result in stronger relationships and improved business interactions.
- Russians are very patriotic. Avoid criticising any aspects of Russian history, culture or politics. Good neutral discussion topics are sports (especially winter sports) and family.
- In meetings, Russians prefer a direct approach. You should be well prepared and your presentations should be straightforward and comprehensible.
- Many Russians are increasingly fashion conscious, particularly in Moscow. Looking very professional and polished will help you make a positive impression on your Russian counterparts.
- Compromise is seen as a sign of weakness in business negotiations. Always come with a strong argument and know where your limits are.
- Russians are very status conscious and prefer to have meetings with those of equal status. Decisions tend to be made by the most senior person.
- Avoid praising or rewarding anyone in public as this may be viewed with suspicion and can cause envy and jealousy. Any praise or criticism will be much better received in private.
- Never shake hands across a doorway or threshold as Russians believe this will bring very bad luck.
- Remember that Russia is an immense country spanning 10 time zones. Always research the location where you are doing business to ensure you do not schedule meetings at a bad time.
Considering and respecting the top tips for doing business in Russia above is the first step towards building effective relationships with your Russian counterparts. Participating in a cross cultural awareness training course such as Doing Business in Russia will give you a deeper insight to the cultural differences you may find in Russia and the ability to anticipate and manage them effectively.
© Communicaid Group Ltd. 2011