It already holds the spot of being the globe’s second-largest economy, behind the US, which only means one thing – China is open for business and business executives are pouring into China by the thousands each and every day.
You may sometime in your executive career venture out to China for business, and if you’re already a frequent flier there here are some Chinese business etiquette tips offered by The National:
How strongly does culture influence the way business is done in China?
Cultural aspects are of enormous significance when doing business in China, absolutely critical. There are no clear boundaries between business culture, social culture and even political culture, lines blur across each aspect.
Is there anything that happens in business meetings that may surprise people based here?
Meetings in China tend to be very formal. Listening skills are deemed of great importance and everyone will listen to the most senior people in the room before taking it in turns to speak in return. If present, foreign attendees would usually be given the opportunity to speak first. In a peer group meeting the position of the attendees will denote how responses and feedback are shared.
Attendees may take calls on their mobiles or check emails during the meeting. The hierarchy and status of those attending will again determine how much of this takes place. Mobile phones are usually switched off in a first-time meeting with someone more senior than the host.
Should you bring a gift if meeting someone for the first time?
A gift would be expected and appropriate to bring to a business meeting in China and is likely to be reciprocated. At a first meeting in China you could expect to receive a natively produced item such as silk products or chopsticks. If the relationship is formalised, gift giving in meetings is likely to continue with higher-value objects.
What can you do during a meeting to build your relationship with someone from China?
Do your research about who is going to be in the meeting, what their title is and their responsibilities very thoroughly and consider this in your behaviour during the meeting to ensure you are aware of hierarchy. Chinese do use the titles and surnames, therefore do not address anyone by their first name. Rather, use their job designation and surname when addressing the person in question.
Is there anything else you need to know about doing business there?
The notion of guanxi is a much more complex idea than the western concept of networking. It is the platform for social and business activities in China and consists of connections defined by reciprocity, trust and mutual obligations. Build up your guanxi and be aware of the dynamics of guanxi around you before anything.
Developing your Chinese business etiquette skills along with your international business etiquette skills is essential to doing business with success in China and around the world.
An international business etiquette class is a great way to train your top executives or employees on how to deal with global clients so they can head out into the horizon confident of bagging a must-needed business deal.