Meeting etiquette

Romania flagBusiness meetings

Romanian business partners pay particular attention to the details of organising a business meeting and may base their interest in a negotiation on the professionalism shown in the arrangements.

The venue of the meeting should be appropriate to the number of expected meeting attendees, allowing enough space to move freely around the room without crowding.

The meeting organiser should provide necessary documentation, paper, pens and refreshments to ensure that attendees do not want for anything that would disrupt the smooth running of the meeting.

It is also important to ensure that suitable presentation equipment is available or that you bring enough equipment and supporting documentation with you.

Importance of business meetings

In Romania, business meetings are taken very seriously and you should adopt a very professional attitude and approach to give the right impression to your Romanian counterparts. Your ideas must be clear and precise with evidence to substantiate your arguments and the means to achieve your objectives. This will enable you to demonstrate that you are well conversant and well organised, which will reflect well on your proposals.

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Business meeting planning

For organising business meetings you should consider the number and composition of attendees, the meeting time and place and the table arrangements.

Both sides should coordinate the time and place for the meeting, the subject of discussion and the language of the discussion. If a translator is required, this should be arranged well in advance of the meeting, with both parties agreement.

Formal business meetings are usually scheduled for 9.30am or 10am and last approximately 90 minutes. Where meetings are scheduled in the afternoon, they should not be set for immediately after lunch or extend beyond 5pm to 5.30pm. According to official protocols, meetings with foreign partners should take place in specially prepared rooms with the delegation being met at the entrance and accompanied to the meeting.

The table arrangement should take into account the status of members. Usually, the delegations are seated face to face, with the leaders placed in the centre.

Transcripts are another important point to be taken into account in the meeting.

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Negotiation process

The key to success in a foreign country is to learn as much about the country and sincerely want to integrate with a new and different culture. The characteristics and psychology of Romanian negotiators do not differ radically from business partners in other countries.

In Romania, the negotiation process can be easy or very harsh. It depends on the subject, negotiators’ skills, importance of the result and limits of the negotiation. Negotiations are usually made with managers who have decision-making power and the number of meeting participants will depend on the size of the company. Most company owners and managers are still male, so it will be rare to meet with a female manager in a negotiation process. Due to historical problems with fraud and fake investment deals that were common in the 1990’s, partners on both sides should be expected to perform their own due diligence to ensure the authenticity of the partnership arrangement.

Sometimes a mandate letter is requested by the Romanian partner to certify that the persons involved in the negotiation process are genuinely representing the company. This can also be requested by the foreign partner as a matter of assurance. One of the most important aspects of the negotiations is price with a discount variation of between 5 to 15%, depending usually on the quantity of products.

The conclusion of the negotiation process will be subject to a signed contract, agreement or memorandum, which records all the terms and conditions and must be validated with the company seal.

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Meeting protocol

When greeting people in Romania, there are a number of typical greetings that vary according to the time of day, situation and person you are addressing.

In the morning with a casual greeting would be ‘Buna dimineata’ (Good morning) or ‘Salut’ (Hello) followed by ‘Ce mai faci?’ (How do you do?).

The person who enters a room should be the first to make a greeting.

The most common greeting is ‘Buna ziua’ (Good day), which can be used at any time of the day and is more formal. A greeting may be accompanied by a handshake and men will often offer a greeting first and wait for a lady to extend their hand.

Informal greetings between friends would include ‘Buna’ (Hi), ‘Pa’ (Bye), etc.

It is usual to shake hands at the beginning and end of a meeting, especially when guests or partners are attending.

Keep in mind that your Romanian counterpart can be easily offended if you refuse to shake hands. So, if there are any issues that prevent you from shaking hands, you should politely explain them to your partner to avoid any awkward situations.

In business meetings, partners exchange business cards as a matter of protocol and to ensure that they are able to maintain contact with one another.

Close friends greet each other by hugging (men) and kissing on both cheeks (women).

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How to run a business meeting

When participating in a meeting, it is important to gather as much information as possible about your counterpart’s business. Partners have to be convinced about the realism of the proposed objectives and meetings must have a firm objective. To create a professional image, all materials must be structured coherently, correctly sized and spelled and printed on quality paper.

If you can establish common ground with your business associates and break the ice by discussing familiar topics, it will help to establish a relationship faster.

By paying attention to body language, you should be able to understand your business associates better and more easily overcome any miscommunications. As part of the negotiation process, you will be expected to ask questions and present real case examples that illustrate your understanding of the ways in which a partnership will benefit both partners.

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Follow up letter after meeting with client

After a business meeting, the host is usually responsible for preparing the minutes of the meeting, which should summarise the main points of discussion, present the overall conclusions and provide a detailed list of action items and dates by which they should be completed. The minutes will normally be circulated within a few days of the meeting, giving the meeting participants the opportunity to comment and allow for any modifications, before a formal agreement is written up.

After a formal contract has been approved and signed, further communication may be required to implement goals, resolve operational issues and report on partnership milestones and deliverables. This will then form the basis of any dispute resolution negotiations or the grounds for the further development of an ongoing business partnership.

Business meals

Business meals may contribute to both cementing your relationship with your business partner and sealing the deal. Therefore, business meals should be carefully organised and you should behave according to the rules of formal dining etiquette.

You should greet your associates on arrival and wait for the host to sit before taking your seat. It is important to avoid ordering the most expensive items on the menu and follow the lead of your host when deciding what to drink. It is best to either avoid alcohol or limit yourself to one glass.

‘Pofta buna’, meaning ‘good appetite’, is usually said when the food arrives and you should take care to be polite and avoid any controversial subjects at the dinner table. At the end of a meal, you should not leave before saying goodbye and shaking hands with everyone.

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Business meetings tips

When you are travelling or working in Romania you should be aware that Romanians are very welcoming and will gladly assist you, but expect you to behave with propriety and respect at all times.

  • You should ask for help, if you need information and ‘Va rog’ is the Romanian for ‘Please’.
  • When entering a public space, it is polite to give priority to women, the elderly or higher ranked persons. Usually, men will open and hold a door for women or the elderly.
  • Always be on time for appointments, stick to the agenda and respect the amount of time that has been allocated to the meeting.
  • It is appreciated if you ask your counterpart about themselves and their family.
  • If you are invited to the home of one of your colleagues, it is recommended to bring flowers for the lady of the house and a bottle of wine for the host.
  • Gifts of souvenirs from your home country can be a useful ice breaker and provide an opportunity for cultural exchange.
  • You may compliment your partner, but take care not to exaggerate or choose an inappropriate moment. If asked for your opinion about Romania, you should give your sincere appreciation and limit any criticisms you may have.
  • When somebody offers you food or drink, you should at least taste it and not refuse straight away.
  • It is normal to stand up when someone older, female or more senior enters the room, in order to greet them properly.
  • In presenting a professional appearance, you should still take the time to smile and show an appreciative nature.

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