Business in the land of the dragon

What I personally think is important to take into account when doing business in China.

 

A week from now I will go on a study trip to Shanghai in order to learn more about how to do business in and with China. But what are my expectations and what do I think is important when doing business in the land of the dragon?

Living in different countries and cultures, I have already experienced how important it is to adapt to local habits, show respect towards the people you are working with and gain the trust of your counterpart. However, I do not have many experience in working abroad and I am excited to learn more about China during this trip.

Since I expect China to be a very diverse country where different languages are spoken and where each region has unique cultural and economic characteristics, there is probably no one single path of how to do business in China. Usually I like to have at least a basic vocabulary – but would I be safe to go with Mandarin, Shanghainese or rather choose another dialect? In order to circumvent any embarrassment in your first meeting, it might be helpful to find a local partner who can not only help you with the language barrier, but who can also link you up with important contacts and assists you while dealing with the jungle of local regulations.

Furthermore, I believe that you should have at least a basic knowledge of local customs and the proper business etiquette. From friends and family travelling to China, I have heard that it is quite important to build a good business relationship over time and, as everywhere in the world, make a good first impression. The way of how you exchange business cards is only one point which needs to be considered. Morevoer, it is crucial that you do not cause someone losing their face or, as we would say, their reputation. While Germans are usually quite direct when it comes to making business, one should be more patient in China and not expect a decision to be made right at the first meeting. Some important decisions might rather be made during a business dinner and not at the conference table.

However, these are only some statements which I have heard about the Chinese business customs. I am curious to learn more about the habits in the land of the dragon and experience it first hand – such as the business meeting etiquette, how to negotiate and the differences in non-verbal communication. Let’s see what this study trip will bring.

 


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