I do not think that anybody else will share with you this tip of doing business in Russia and the CIS. But it is particularly important because good and profitable business relationships are built from small things.
To make it clearer to you, let me explain with my personal example. As you can see from the name on my personal website, my name is Aleksander Sinyansky. In Russia, close friends, relatives, and my wife call me just by name – Aleksander.
But when my employees or clients communicate with me, they use my name and my patronymic – Aleksander Aleksandrovich. The same happens when I receive official documents, they all are addressed to Aleksander Aleksandrovich because this is a business communication custom in Russia and the CIS.
If I come to a business meeting or to some government agency in Russia, I also use a person’s name and patronymic. In many Russian companies there is a plate stating the surname, the name, and the patronymic of the director on his/her office door. So, any visitor should know the correct way of addressing this person. On Russian business cards you will also fins all three elements of a full name – a name, a patronymic and a surname.
Of course, there are exceptions. More modern leaders and young people may prefer to be addressed simply by a name or only by a surname. In my example, it will be “Hi Aleksander” or “Hello Mr. Sinyansky.”
At the beginning of a meeting, your partner will normally tell you the best way to call him/her. If you come to a business meeting and introduce yourself first, just pay attention to how your Russian partner will introduce himself/herself – only by one name or by a name and a patronymic. Then, use this way for further conversation.
If you do not want to make a mistake and be in a winning situation in any negotiations in Russia and the CIS, always contact your partner by a name and a patronymic. This will show your respect and understanding of local business customs.
For those of you who do not know the Russian language or Russian names, I will tell you how to understand where in a signature you can find a name, a patronymic and a surname:
1. Firstly, you need to remember that texts in Russian are always read from left to right. Therefore, the first word in a signature will always be located on the left.
2. If the signature consists of two words, then the first word is a name which is followed by a surname.
3. If the signature consists of three words (to be more exact, they are one word and two initials), then the first word is a surname which is followed by initials of a name and a patronymic. For example, my full signature in Russia is Sinyansky (surname) Aleksander (name) Aleksandrovich (patronymic) or Sinyansky A.A.
Let me give you another piece of advice on how to write a cover letter or an email to your potential client in Russia.
1. In the subject line of your letter/email, you need to write like in this example: “To [my company name], for [Mr. Sinyansky] from [your company name]. That is, in the subject line of the letter/email, you should indicate only the surname of your partner.
2. You should start your letter/email with this phrase: “Dear Aleksander Aleksandrovich”. So, you use a name and a patronymic. It is especially important! It shows your respect to your Russian business partner. If you don’t know the required name yet, you just can write “Dear [company name] company” in your first email.
The Russian word for the word “dear” should be “uvazhayemiy/uvazhayemaya” not “dorogoy/dorogaya”. I deliberately spelled this word in Russian so that you can use it in the future when referring to any person in Russia. “Uvazhayemiy” is always addressed to a man, “Uvazhayemaia” is always addressed to a woman. They are universal options to address to any person in Russia or the CIS, regardless of their age and social status. Use these two words and you will never make a mistake and will look like a well-mannered and educated person.
And of course you can also apply if you know so far only the name of the company name “Uvazhayemaia Russian Food company”. Please note that when you use only the name of the Russian company, then you need to use only the woman option “uvazhayemaia”
If you are interested in learning even more about Russia, Russian mentality, and Russian business customs, your can free reading my book Your First 50 Right Steps to Enter the Russian Food Market.
Business Adviser on the Russian Food Market