Russian Business Communication Etiquette or How to Contact a Potential Business Partner in Russia and CIS.


This article is the third official update to my book Your First 50 Right Steps to Enter the Russian Food Market. The first update, you can see HERE, the second one is HERE.

In the article “Why You Should Never Buy Databases for Russian or CIS Markets”, which is the second update of my book, I wrote that in Russia and the CIS it is customary to use a name and a patronymic for business communication, unlike in many other countries where you use a name and a surname .

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 Alexander Sinyanskiy. In Russia, close friends, relatives, and my wife call me just by name – Alexander.

But when my employees or clients communicate with me, they use my name and my patronymic – Alexander Alexandrovich. The same happens when I receive official documents, they all are addressed to Alexander Alexandrovich 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 Alexander” or “Hello Mr. Sinyanskiy.”

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 Sinyanskiy (surname) Alexander (name) Alexandrovich (patronymic) or Sinyanskiy 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. Sinyanskiy] 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 Alexander Alexandrovich”. So, you use a name and a patronymic. It is especially important! It shows your respect to your Russian business partner.

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.

If you are interested in learning even more about Russia, Russian mentality, and Russian business customs, I recommend reading my book Your First 50 Right Steps to Enter the Russian Food Market.

King Regards,
Alexander Sinyanskiy
Business Adviser on the Russian Food Market 

I hope you will be interested in my other posts:

Lack of customization for the Russian food market, on the example of a bread machine of a very famous global company.

7 reasons why you need to work with Russians, not your fellow countrymen, when you enter to the Russian food market.

Why offering a commission or a percentage in Russia is a very bad idea.

Why you need to have a website or webpage in the Russian language if you real want to work with the Russian food market.

What kind the main Russian governmental websites necessary to know all foreign companies to work on the Russian food market.

3 books I recommend reading to all my clients from Russia and whole World.

Yandex does not control its AI. The first update to my book about Russian food market.

We are looking for a food distributor in Russia. Just one exclusive distributor! Ha-ha-ha!

How Russian food companies deceive foreigners and why you should always check your partners in Russia.

If you have in Russia some friends need our products, please let me know!

Russian Business Communication Etiquette or How to Contact a Potential Business Partner in Russia and CIS.

Your First 50 Right Steps to Enter the Russian Food Market

Why you should never buy databases for Russian or CIS markets. Only personal customization and individual compilation.