Keys to perform on Chinese market
1.You already know it, Guanxi which means “business relationships” is the key. Probably more than anywhere else, this is one of the most important things to bear in mind in China
Most western people know business relationships are important, but it is even truer in China, as a great part of contracts you are potentially qualified to sign may come thanks to these relationships. In many cases. you will find it hard to conclude a good deal only by email. Instead, you may have to spend hours, maybe days with your potential client, talking about unrelated topics, dining or joining other activities.
Chinese businessmen work in a different way. They need to spend time with potential partners to come to trust them, and make sure it is worth it.
2.How to start creating a relationship with Chinese people
Westerners can be shy, but it is nothing compared to some Chinese people. As a result, western people often have to take initiatives, and starting conversing about positive topics can be a good way.
Chinese cuisine is generally a good topic since many Chinese people are keen on educating western people about it. It is a perfect ice-breaker and will help to start a deeper connection. If you know enough about it, you can also discuss Chinese ancient history or various aspect of Chinese culture like tea. Or even the best baijiu (Chinese traditional liquor) in the country. In any case, it is better to avoid any political issue as it is not the most relaxed topic, and cuisine is the safest as you will not find many Chinese who do not like food.
Here is a really interesting article about speaking Chinese and get more responsibilities.
3.Learn the Chinese definition of leadership
Traditionally in China, the leader is whoever has authority or power. He can influence people and his decisions are seldom criticized. Although it is becoming less true in recent years, leaders are sometime less respected for their skills than for their title and attitude, and that is a point worth to be considered in some situations.
4.The “Face”, or Chinese concept of Mianzi
The Chinese concept of Mianzi, the Face, corresponds in the West to the concept of “keeping someone’s face”, in other words avoiding any situation that would lead someone to “lose face”. But in China, it all takes another dimension and you’d better keep this well in mind. One of the safest rules is to avoid criticizing anyone or any project in public as it could result in insulting someone, and you may lose potential clients or partnerships. Stay focused on positive aspects until you are in private.
5.Chinese people seldom say no
Saying “no” or refusing to help can be considered in some situations as a disrespect, and can lead the other person to “lose face”. Therefore, Chinese people will often say no in an indirect way, like “I agree with what you said, but…”. At this point, you are almost sure the other person disagrees with you, while in the West some will add a “but” for more precisions, or just for sport J. One of the most annoying case you can face in China is when you ask for directions in the street, and nice people without any clue will answer your different things.
6.Understand Chinese people, do not judge them
China is a large and diverse country. It is also a country with a long history of traditions that went through extreme changes in the past 40 years. People from Beijing are different from those living in Shanghai, and they are very different from those living in Guangzhou. Well understanding Chinese culture and adapting as much as possible without judgement will be the key to conquering China and develop a lasting business relationship.