Many clients asked, “How can we get business from our China trips” Understandably with the travel cost and time involved, their main concerns would be meeting targets and results. Business negotiation is a process. It is important to schedule plenty of ‘getting-to-know-you’ time. There are five things to avoid when visiting China:
- Do not schedule too many meetings and rush into the ‘let us make a deal NOW’ mode. Relationship building is important for the Chinese, as well as for you. Take time to find a trusting partner.
- Do not speak first at roundtable meetings uninvited, or circulate an agenda unsolicited. Different cultures appreciate different degrees of directness. In China, you are a guest so let others play host.
- Do not take it for granted that when the Chinese nod their heads, they mean ‘yes’ or they understand you. Saying ‘no’ in the Chinese culture is deemed as impolite. Check it diplomatically.
- Do not see a lack of response in discussions as indifference. The Chinese are more accustomed to maintaining harmony than expressing views. Use a gentle approach to invite feedback.
- Do not assume what works in your company or country will work elsewhere. It would be a mistake to transfer the so-called western way to a country of different culture without careful planning.
The good new is: you can enhance business relationships in China at no extra cost. Here are the five tips:
- Make a concerted effort to know your contacts as individuals, not just business partners. Seeing people in a different light will help you ascertain if you can trust and partner with them long term.
- Interact with your trade partners outside business meetings. It is all part of a decision making process. Chinese business people are known for making deals in restaurants and karaoke bars.
- Show an interest in the cultural, social and economic development in China. This will give you clues of what your Chinese counterparts believe and why they behave in certain ways.
- Be considerate. Collectivism plays a key role in old and modem China. The way you interacted with your contacts would impact on how they would be regarded by their colleagues and company.
- If you decided not to partner with a Chinese contact you have known for a while, keep in touch with them occasionally. Given the intricate networks in China, they might open doors for you.
Relation building takes time. It is possible to shorten the journey with these business tips.