To run a business in China, a lot of aspects and peculiarities have to be taken into consideration to be successful on the market. Because Chinese culture is different from what Western businessmen do, misunderstandings and misconceptions are inevitable for inexperienced and poorly informed businessmen.
To facilitate the flow of approaching the Chinese market, 80 Level Research Team collected 10 tips that illustrate what to do in order to be on the same page with the Chinese.
Find a European specialist who works in the company you want to partner with.
- Most Chinese people don't have experience of working with Westerners.
- Some of them get in deep into other cultures to hit it off, but they still don’t always get it.
- It’s normal to ask somebody who understands China's cultural characteristics to guide you and help at the intro stage.
Ask your Chinese colleague to help you.
- The best option is to have a representative that lives in China who can attend offline meetings because Chinese people need a lot of time to get to know you in order to trust you.
- Visiting your partner’s office will show your engagement, which is valuable for the Chinese side.
Answer Chinese partners’ emails as quickly as possible.
- Service in China is at a very high level due to high competition, and they expect fast responses from partners.
- The Chinese will feel disrespected if the answer to their questions takes long. No one will wait 24 hours. If you can, respond immediately.
- There is a culture of “overtime” in China. People are used to immediate communication even outside working hours.
- If a delay is caused by objective reasons, it is best to give a reasonable explanation.
Consider using WeChat for communication instead of emails.
- The Chinese use WeChat, and if they don’t get a response in around 2 hours, they assume that you have strong, legitimate reasons for the delay.
- WeChat has a distinguishing feature compared to Western messengers; the absence of reading message notifications. This is done in order to preserve the dignity of each other.
- If the message was read but not answered, then it could mean disrespect or other problems with the partnership.
Be observant and able to adjust to changing circumstances quickly.
- Try to understand clients' needs and preferences. By thinking on behalf of the clients, companies increase their sales.
Be generous in terms of gift-giving and, if you get one, always pay your partners back.
- Gifts are a common attribute of negotiations in China. People wouldn't ask about gifts, but they are expected.
- Red boxes (surprises) are appreciated during conferences.
- Chinese partners can give very expensive presents, and it’s imperative to give similar gifts in return, especially at the stage of a potential partnership.
- For C-level managers, gifts are not really necessary.
- Even if you are not in China, ask somebody to send New Year’s (or other Chinese Holiday) gifts to partners. They’ll appreciate your gesture.
Personalized high-quality presents related to your own country are best. Cheap gifts are not. Clocks as gifts are forbidden.
- Chinese partners will appreciate something related to different cultures. The best gifts are from the giver’s native country.
- Partners would also prefer to have unique personalized gifts.
- A strong smell in alcohol is considered a sign of quality.
- Good foreign chocolate is also highly valued.
- Something very cheap (like casual souvenirs) may be taken as a sign of disrespect.
- Bring a fruit basket or some tea sets to the clients. These gifts are normally of a very small value, but they represent the gesture of being a polite person.
- Never give a wall clock as a gift because it’s associated with death.
Continue exploring WeChat and use red envelopes there.
- In the WeChat social network, there are red envelopes (an amount of money) that you can send to your partners.
- The value of a gift should be determined by how well you know the business partner.