In Romanian business culture, business partners meet on a professional level, as well as on a private level. Therefore, at a first business meeting in Romania, people don’t just see the representative of a company, but also the person behind the role. The private life of their counterpart, thus, plays a rather important role, even if only talked about superficially. You should interpret a question about your family by your Romanian business partners as genuine interest and not as a violation of your privacy.
With this in mind, it is just natural that a business meeting in Romania takes place in a relaxed atmosphere and is only moved to the conference room at a much later stage – and only if really necessary. Similarly, conversations will only gradually turn to more business-related topics. Often local hierarchies and the respective contact partner will be discussed first before the potential joint business project is discussed.
Business cards are exchanged at the beginning of a meeting in Romania. They provide information on the name and the academic title of the business partner. The position in the company, as well as the contact details, are, of course, also important.
Greetings And Titles
The Romanian language differentiates between a formal ›You‹ – ›Dumneavoastră‹ ( dvs.) and an informal ›You‹ – ›tu‹. If you are meeting someone for the first time, you should always use ›Dumneavoastră‹ plus the surname. Where appropriate state your academic title as well.
Since English is the lingua franca in many offices, the use of first names is also common. Besides, the English ›you‹ sounds similar to the Romanian ›tu‹, thus, you will also often hear the informal ›you‹.
Dumneavoastră – The formal greeting
Mr = Domnul (e.g. Dl. Ionescu)
Mrs = Doamna (e.g. Dna. Ionescu)
Dr (male) = Domnul Doctor (e.g. Dl. Dr. Ionescu)
Dr (female) = Doamna Doctor (e.g. Dna. Dr. Ionescu)
Tu – The informal greeting
›Tu‹ is always used with the first name. For example: ›Good Morning, Irina, how are you?‹ – ›Bună dimineaţa, Irina, ce mai faci?‹ An exception is the combination of first name plus the formal ›You‹ – ›Dumneavoastră‹, e.g. ›Doamna Irina‹. On the one hand, this expresses a formal relationship and, on the other, it takes into account that you are communicating with a higher-ranking person to whom you have a very close relationship or who you respect very much because you work very closely together.
Here is an example of the nuances of greetings from formal down to informal in an e-mail correspondence (many of which are lost in translation):
Stimată Dna. Dr. Popescu, … Dvs … – Dear (Mrs) Dr Popescu, … You …
Bună ziua, Dna. Dr. Popescu, … Dvs … – Hello (Mrs) Dr Popescu, … You …
Dragă Dna. Irina, … Dvs … – Dear (Mrs) Irina, … You …
Dragă Irina, … tu … – Dear Irina, … you …
Bună Irina, … tu … – Hello Irina, … you …
It’s considered good form for the older or higher-ranking individual to offer the ›tu‹.
If someone offers you the ›tu‹, you should always accept it; anything else would jeopardise the good relationship.
Presenting Products And Services
A product presentation aimed at Romanian business partners should be well structured and underpinned with data, facts and figures. Moreover, the telling of stories has proven successful. Romanians generally have a good sense of what the other side wants to hear. This is exactly what they will tend to say, and they will quickly adjust their statements depending on the reaction of their counterpart.
They promise their audience as much as possible; however, in the end, this often cannot be implemented.
Foreign managers should be careful at a first business meeting in Romania and remember that not everything the Romanian presenter promises during a product presentation should be taken seriously. At the same time, Romanians love a ›think big‹ approach, and thus big words should not simply be misunderstood as a deception.
You should bear this in mind when presenting in front of a Romanian audience, so your proposal doesn’t come across as too weak.
Written material is always appreciated, but tends to be handed out at the end of a presentation. Documents about products and services should be relatively comprehensive and detailed.
Establishing And maintaining Contact
In Romania, you can only work well together if you thoroughly know each other personally.
Friendliness, politeness, sympathy – this trio will open any door. Thus, it is a good sign if you are invited to the home of your Romanian business partner after the initial conversation.
Accept this invitation and enjoy Romanian hospitality. Establishing close personal ties is just as important as a convincing proposal. The personal strengths of the company’s representative are seen as a reflection of what to expect of them when it comes to the quality of the goods and
services they present – and can accelerate the business relationship or, in the worst case, slow it down.
It is, therefore, important that you always maintain contact with your Romanian business partners. Regularly send an e-mail, a greeting card or, even better, make a phone call to catch up after a first business meeting in Romania.
Materials about products and services should be presented and described in high detail and clearly structured. Information on data, facts and figures are particularly important.
Complimentary gifts are common and appreciated in Romania. When it comes to private invitations to the home of your Romanian business partner, you should bring a small gift for each family member: A bottle of wine for the host, flowers for the lady of the house, and sweets from your country for the children.
Giveaways of the company are common practice and are valued as gifts or souvenirs.