When moving or visiting China for business and meetings there is a lot you should be prepared of. Business in China is nothing like it is in the western world. You don’t meet people in a sterile room, talk about business, find a compromise on product and price, set-up a contract and sign it. If that is the way you want to make business in China stay home.
Business in China – a small guide on how to make it in the Middle Kingdoms
Disclaimer: At the moment China has approximately 1.4 billion citizens. Every person is an individual and the given tips and information may not apply on everyone. However, everything I write here is real life experience and brought me a lot of results, when working with Chinese people.
Business in China is related to people. Not companies like it is in the west. What does that mean? It means when you want to be successful, you need to know people, make new relationships and take care for them. When you want to see results, meet people in person. Congratulate to their and their loved onces birthdays and remember what they like to prepare the best gifts possible.
Business in China means you need to build a network and make it from one point to another when you want to see results. For instance: When you know nobody in town, nobody wants to deal with you. Because you have no reputation. Nobody know if the words you are saying are valuable. You may dissapear tomorrow, like a lot of people did before, when they got tired of China.
That‘s where GuanXi 关系 kicks in. To become successful you need to make on key contact in order to build your whole network. When you have someone recommending you to someone else, that connection is your reputation.
How to make this first connection? Go out! Go to bars, go to restaurants, go to places, use LinkedIn, ask coworker, go to Karaoke. Be creative. Chinese people are very communicative and open minded. I could make 10 new connections in just one night. And you can do it too.
When you built your reputation and network and it may come to business meeting you have to know a business meeting is hold at restaurant while talking about hobbies, traveling, Chinese food and geography or any other harmless topic. But be aware: These topics are the fundament of your closing on a deal. Spending time while eating dinner and talking about personal matters are part of the deal. The more you invest into a relationship, the more you can take advantage of it. And that how Chinas business world works in a nutshell. Everything you put in, you will be able to pull out.
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Beside knowing people and spending time with them it is very important to create harmony and a welcoming atmosphere. When receiving compliments – give compliments. When someone splashes something on your tie – splash something on their tie. When receiving a gift – give back a gift minimum the same value as you received. When invited for dinner – invite them back the next time. Always make sure to keep everything in balance. Yin and Yang might be a thing people may smile about in the west – but in China it is reality and to be honest I like it this way.
You can be sure that every information you give will be saved and used in future to comfort you. As long, as people are interested in working with you. And that’s the same you should act. When you are interested in a new business partner or customer you should show them that you are interested by giving personalized gifts, congratulating for birthday, to remember when you meet again what you talked about and so on. The more your partner realizes you are interested, the more he will be open to make more and more business with you.
That’s it for the first part. You learned how to build a network from scratch and how to build up relationships with your partners. Always remember that relationships are THE key factor to be successful in China