As China continues it advance as a leader in the global economy, we need to learn how to build relationships with Chinese business leaders.
Today, we don’t need to go to China anymore to meet Chinese executives, they are in our cities around the world. It just takes a little attention and we can stand out and build long term partnerships.
- Make Even Small Attempts to Learn Chinese Culture. Find a quick book on Chinese business culture and give it a read. And don’t confuse Chinese and Japanese business culture - there are a lot of differences. While in the past the focus was on Japanese business in America, today’s world is more and more about China. Such small things as exchanging name cards with both hands, pouring drinks for your guests first, and family style meals go a long way. Sure, they aren’t in China anymore and are on your “home turf” but to make a lasting impression - make even the smallest effort. They will notice it and it will be a great conversation topic during meetings.
- Install Wechat App. Everyone in China uses Wechat. Chinese around the world are using it, and while maybe you still haven’t heard of it - if you see a Chinese person, 99.9% chance they are using it. Want to make a lasting impression - ask them for their Wechat at a meeting! Learn about QR code scanning and make groups of friends in the app. You will grow your network exponentially just with this simple app.
- Remember Chinese New Year. It’s a tricky holiday to fit on your calendar, as it is connected to the Lunar calendar instead of the Solar calendar. But it happens around mid January to end of Feb time frame. As your Chinese friends and they will be more than happy to show you the current dates. They are looking forward to this holiday all year long, making travel plans and excited to meet friends and family. Take the time to give a small gift or red pocket (cash envelope) as a token of your respect.
- Discuss Your Family With Them. Chinese are very family centered. Even in strict business meetings, discussions of family upbringing, children, and other more personal topics will come up. Don’t feel awkward, go with it and share your family story too. They want to make a real, personal connection with you before going deep into business. While the Western world wants to separate personal and business, in China its often one in the same.
- Give Small Gifts. In China, gifts are a normal way of daily life. When you visit someone’s house, bring some fruit. When you come back from traveling, bring a small token gift representing where you were. If you’re visiting, bring some small gifts that represent your hometown. We’re not talking expensive or extravagant - just food items, or low value but memorable gifts. It’s the thought that counts, and it holds true here.
Pick one or two of these points and you will start to stand out to your Chinese business associates. And they will introduce you to more of their Chinese business colleagues, and you can reap the rewards. But be genuine, and think long term and you will make a new business channel for your business.
Michael Michelini is host of the GlobalFromAsia.com podcast, an online radio show to help business owners grow their companies in Asia and around the world. To read more of his blogs, Click Here Now.
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