5 Etiquette Tips for Doing Business in Russia

The Russian economy has seen a strong comeback in recent years and people are paying attention.  Competition is heating up, so you now is the time to stand out to your Russian clients and colleagues. Understanding their etiquette before you leave on your business trip will help you do so. Here are our top 5 tips.

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1.     Look the part

Status is a big part of Russian society. Your importance, expertise and wealth are expected to be on full display. Dress in an expensive designer outfit and drive up in a top-tier car, and you’ll be taken seriously. A crisp haircut and manicure will also serve you well. Expensive watches, pens and other accessories will make you look even better. No one is expecting you to break the bank if you can’t afford it, but do your best to channel your inner James Bond.

2.     Don’t forget their father’s name

In Russia you will address a man by his first name and his father’s name, not “Mr.” followed by the surname. How a person is to be addressed will be written on their business card, so try and get this in advance. Calling your counterpart with their first name alone may not happen on the first day of business, so knowing this minor detail will be much needed in your interactions.

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3.     Translate all documents to Russian

Most Russians speak English (as they are taught from an early age in school), but as you’d expect, they still prefer most business communications to be in Russian. Your business card should have a Russian translation on the flip side. All documents, printouts and other information to be given or shown should also have Russian translations. And if you can speak their language, it’s even better!

4.   Always be on time

In Russia, you will be judged before even walking into your first business meeting. Punctuality is of great importance and you are always expected to be early –even if some business partners may not be. When  clients do show up late, you are expected to maintain your cordiality and not be offended by their tardiness. Patience is also respected so don’t mention that they are late or you had to wait for half an hour, even in jest.

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5.     Remember you love Russia

You will be asked over and over again by different people what you think of Russia and your response is expected to be ‘I love Russia’. Any attempts to negatively critique the country, the people or anything else you see, hear, taste or touch can severely affect your business. Russians are very patriotic and if you show a high affinity for the country, you will be very welcome.  So do speak the language, eat the food with a smile on your face, accept invitations to the Banya and don’t act outwardly startled by different customs. Before you leave, check out Russian language courses and take advantage of free online resources, like the Russian language level test to see how good your Russian is before heading abroad for business.

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