According to Jacob Xu (Jianguo Xu) of PAB Languages the conventional wisdom that only large corporations can do business in China is a thing of the past. Small- and medium- sized businesses today enjoy similar opportunities in China, the world's most populous nation, with 1.3 billion people.
Great starting point for international business in China is at the trade shows, Chinese government organises international trade fairs in huge size and many cities each year, there are plenty of chances for foreign companies to find good local trade opportunities and meet future business partners.
The Chinese word “GUAN XI” means connections and relationships, from friendship to relatives. There are also lots of businesses that started from friends’ introduction or personal recommendation, however almost no business comes from cold calling.
Before organsing a trip ensure that you learn about Chinese business culture and social etiquette. If you feel that you are too busy to learn about Chinese people preferences and business traditions, then you are certainly too busy to be successful there. Here are some Dos:
- Observe and respect seniority/rank/hierarchy
- Dress conservatively
- Learn a few Chinese polite words
- Receive offerings with both hands
- Know 8 is the lucky number (sounds like ‘fortune’ in Chinese) and 4 is the unlucky number (sounds like ‘death’ in Chinese)
- Pre-book appointments and arrive on time
When Chinese businesspeople agree to go ahead and start doing business with your company, lots of visiting, and lots of meetings will follow, and of course, lots of meals will follow too, that’s the culture, eating and drinking could bring you closer to them, and make it easier for them to break down the line of defense from your part.
No matter small or big business, the direct manager or most important manager to be present in the meeting is vitally important, the bigger rank manager to be present the more seriously you should treat this business. Chinese people don’t do “autopilot” business, and if you send a low rank manager to meet with their high rank manager it means lack of respect, you may not even see him because he’s “ill” or “busy”.
Professionalism, relationship focus approach, and after-sale service are important.
Jacob Xu is an Associate Consultant and Translator of Mandarin at PAB Languages Center since 2015. Jacob Graduated from China Xinjiang Urumqi Vocational College with specialisation in Accounting and from Shanghai Jiaotong University with specialisation English - Chinese and Chinese - English Translation and Interpretation.
As an international business interpreter and translator Jacob visited Azerbaijan, Egypt, Burma, Nigeria, Sudan, India, Nepal, Georgia and Iran.