In Russian, the term "sv'ázi" ("связи") is used to describe something like business connections but it is not that exactly. "Sv'ázi" usually does not refer to friends made through business, but it normally refers to someone you know who could provide you with a service in an unofficial capacity. Russian phrase sounds like "Someone has sv'ázi somewhere" and means that he or she has friends or relatives working in mentioned organization and they could help to achieve an extra or better service from this firm or state organization like getting something without waiting a common queue or simply more quickly, cheaper, getting a job and so on. So knowing them is not a consequence of your business, but because you know them, you can get something done.

Is there an English word or idiom that captures this idea of having friends or family in an organization to help turning interaction with this organization more easy and effective than in official common way?

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    I am pretty sure this question will be closed quickly, as requests for translations into English are off topic for this forum. However, for your information, term connections is perfectly fine in English in this case. You can certainly say, I have my connections at that university.
    – Aleks G
    Commented Sep 14, 2012 at 13:18
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    Hey Nick, I've tried to make the question suitable for EL&U, but if I've messed up on what you're trying to convey, please edit it. Commented Sep 14, 2012 at 16:53
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    Not -exactly the idea but 'cronies' or 'nepotism' are related ideas.
    – Mitch
    Commented Sep 14, 2012 at 17:14
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    In Hungarian, this is called protekció, which my dictionary translates as "back-stair influence". I don't think I've ever heard that phrase used in English, though.
    – Marthaª
    Commented Sep 14, 2012 at 22:00
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    The proverb that sprang to my mind was, "Sometimes it's not what you know, but who you know." (That's not an exact fit, but it seems somewhat related.)
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 15, 2012 at 4:01

7 Answers 7


I think "connections" is the best term for it, though saying someone has "good connections" doesn't distinguish whether these are business connections or friends and family who can provide unofficial help.

  • The same is in Russian. "Связи" means any connections, including business ones.
    – Anixx
    Commented Sep 15, 2012 at 11:04

I know that in German this is called "Vitamin B". www.dict.cc then offers the following translations into English:

  • good connections
  • good contacts
  • strong contacts
  • German "Vitamin B" is very interesting idiom, indeed
    – Nick
    Commented Sep 14, 2012 at 16:15
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    @bryan "Vitamin B" is perfectly idiomatic German. And as far as English goes, the answer does mention "connections", just as your comment does. How you can label that "totally wrong", escapes me.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Sep 15, 2012 at 13:58

>What does "krysha" mean? ..

From 'The Guardian' newspaper commenting on Russian businessmen.

The Russian word of the trial. Literally, it means "roof". But it carries a kaleidoscope of other associations: an arrangement; lobbying; political services; icebreaking; physical protection from murder by Chechen terrorists and bandits; fixing; and a long-term relationship with more or less regular payments. Abramovich's case is that he hired Berezovsky to give him krysha. It was Berezovsky krysha with Boris Yeltsin that allowed Abramovich's Sibneft to win a rigged auction in 1995 for an oil company and refinery. It was this that catapulted both men from successful multi-millionaires into the billionaire league.

The word krysha also features in the WikiLeaks documents released in 2010. In a cable describing corruption in Moscow, US diplomats note that Russia's FSB spy agency – former boss Vladimir Putin – offers the best krysha of all, extending its protective arm to Moscow's biggest mafia gang.


See also 'Nepotism'


Nepotism is favoritism granted to relatives regardless of merit.


Sometimes people will say something cannot be bought for 'love nor money'.

Not for love or/nor money ( not by any means ):

Use:- You can't get that book for love or money; it's completely sold out.

"help from friends or family"?


You can ask a favour.

Often on detective programs, the detective has to call in favours in order to get his job done.

'call in favours'

This is a newspaper headline:

NoW journalist was urged to call in favours from Yard boss

NoW stands for 'News of the World', it is the name of a newspaper.

Look here

  • Well, "nepotism" is a related term but it is a term to describe phenomena related to svyazi, but I suppose you'd never say "I have nepotism in that University, I ask them not to expel you so quickly", but svyazi meaning having friend working there which could push some buttons suits here.
    – Nick
    Commented Sep 15, 2012 at 7:41

One related phrase that is often used in Britain is mates' rates, referring to a discounted price for friends/family.


Perhaps the term cronyism

the practice of giving jobs and other advantages to friends, especially in politics

In American English, this generally has a pejorative implication.

SUPPLEMENT: In informal term used in American English is juice

(North American informal) influence or power, especially in a political or business context: Lucchese was involved in the case and he had a certain amount of juice around the city

  • Same as for "nepotism" - one could use to describe phenomena but wouldn't say "we have cronyism in that factory".
    – Nick
    Commented Sep 15, 2012 at 7:45

The idea of making friends who can benefit your business or career is often called "networking".

  • Yes, networking is an interesting word. There was a job advertised in the Scottish government in which the main requirement was 'skill in networking'. Another word is 'social climbing'. These words have positive and negative associations. The job description that required 'networking skills' caused a storm of protest because there is often an accusation of 'jobs for the bhoys' discuss.glasgowguide.co.uk/lofiversion/index.php/t24707.html ............ urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bhoys Commented Sep 14, 2012 at 20:29
  • This isn't what OP is looking for. "Networking" is the process of finding business associates, not giving them good service. Commented Sep 15, 2012 at 10:14
  • @DisgruntledGoat To be pedantic, the title asks about getting service but the text of the question asks about acquiring the contacts. I readily agree that this answer is not a perfect fit, but I thought it might be helpful nevertheless.
    – Jay
    Commented Sep 17, 2012 at 13:55

I'm not exactly sure…

of the nature of… "this business"…

but it sounds clandestine.

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