Exports from the Czech Republic to Poland have been increasing year to year, facilitated in part by language and cultural similarities between the two nations. But even if, like the Czechs, your people and the Polish understand each other quite well, written materials for Poland should be translated into Polish. It’s also a good idea to keep in mind that the Poles like to bargain and they love good discounts and strong endorsements from Western markets.
Neighboring Poland is a very interesting market for the Czech Republic. It is the only country in the EU that maintained economic growth even during the financial crisis of 2008, and for this and other reasons Poland has earned the nickname of the Economic Tiger of Europe. Its healthy economy coupled with a general acceptance of Polish culture in the Czech Republic creates a positive starting point for transactions. Poles, on the other hand, tend to be more careful and demanding in business, so greater effort may be required to break into their markets.
There are Polish trade associations that offer assistance to potential foreign investors in Poland. In view of the bureaucratic burden, the hierarchic nature of management and some legal intricacies, it is a good idea to seek expertise and to become familiar with the advice that follows below. Business etiquette and culturally customized promotion of products and services will serve you well.
Poles are generally friendly and tolerant towards foreigners, but they are also proud of their expansive country, and sometimes the representatives of smaller nations can get the impression that the Polish consider themselves to be superior. They are business-smart and willing to negotiate. However, during negotiations, they typically do not hide their emotions, and can act impulsively; it shouldn’t come as a surprise if Polish negotiations occasionally include angry outbursts.
When setting prices, keep in mind that the Poles have a tradition of bargaining fiercely, so calculate your numbers thoroughly so that you can maintain sufficient profitability even as your Polish partners seek a deal.
Initial meetings tend to be relatively short, getting right down to the heart of the matter, with the usual formalities of handshakes and business cards included. All documents and other official materials should be translated into Polish.
When having a drink, talk about family
Poles tend to project optimism and gallantry, and they expect a similar approach from their business partners. As part of the process of building good relationships, they also focus on informal relationships and are very hospitable. An invitation to have a drink should not be declined.
You can reciprocate with a small show of appreciation. In view of the pressing issue of corruption, it is better to avoid expensive gifts. When invitations to lunch or dinner are extended, the Poles are used to paying for their food and drink on their own, but offering to pay the bill for them out of courtesy will do no harm.
Besides business and cultural specifics, family is also an ideal conversation topic. Do not be afraid to share your more personal character by talking about your family. With Polish business partners, this can help deepen trust.
Plan meetings on days other than church holidays
Poland is a highly religious country, which to a certain extent is also reflected in professional life there. Meetings and business trips should not overlap with church holidays. During conversation, pay extra attention to avoiding any negative remarks about faith.
The Polish population generally enjoys a community-focused way of life. Relationships with church institutions, municipalities, and various associations and clubs that participate in community life can have an effect on your success.
If you have good references from Western markets, you should certainly mention them, as Polish business partners put stock in such endorsements. Another good way of improving trust is to say a few phrases in Polish and to extend a reasonable level of compliments, while always maintaining a persona that is natural and honest.
J. V. McShulskis