I love doing business in China, but you do need to learn their etiquette in order to create your contacts and maintain relationships. There is a significant time change between where I live and China so when I work from home, I have to schedule meetings accordingly. Sometimes, this means I am up in the middle of the night but it gets things done. Luckily, plenty of the work can be done via emails and sending documents so each party can address them when the time fits their schedule.
One of the things that first intimidated me about doing business in China is the loud voices. I assumed many of them were hostile and they weren’t going to embrace my concepts. What I have learned though is this is the way they convey power, confidence, and conduct business. I don’t know much of the language so be sure you have a strong interpreter by your side.
This will help to break down any language barriers. I have found many Chinese though are able to speak very good English. It makes it easier to communicate and I have picked up some basics of their language. Take the time to learn to properly say hello and goodbye. This is a sign of respect.
Most of these business leaders tend to shy away from the typical handshake too. While many of them do it out of a courtesy for others they do business with, they really don’t like engaging in it. As a general rule of thumb, don’t put your hand out to shake. Wait to see if they extend theirs, and if they do, grasp it gently and only for a second and then let go.
Carry lots of business cards with you! They find it rude if they don’t have your information in front of them before a meeting starts. Make sure everyone at that table has one that has your current information on it. They will appreciate it, and this simple step gets the meeting off on the right foot. Don’t ask probing questions that don’t deal directly with business as they will consider it insulting.
Integrity is essential to conduct business in China. Always make sure you stand by what you say and if you can’t, you explain why. If they can’t trust you, they won’t work with you. Show character and integrity in all you do if you wish to develop long term relationships.
Meals are often associated with business meetings and deals in China. Meals are often served family style, and you should try some of each dish. Never pass on a toast either. If you don’t drink, you should still join in with a non-alcoholic beverage.
Doing business in China is amazing, and I love learning about their culture. Take the time learn about their business dealings so you don’t offend them or ruin your chances of taking part in terrific opportunities. I see my business dealings in this part of the world continually growing due to the strong relationships I am involved with.