10 Tips on Doing Business in China

I am a Full-time MBA candidate in Opus College of Business and will continue on my second year of study in the fall. Being from Beijing, everything I have experienced here in terms of business culture has changed my idea of surviving in the foreign business world.

Frankly speaking, it really took me a while to get comfortable with the new rules of American business culture and I appreciate that the UST MBA program allows me to start practicing early enough before I totally embarrass myself in front of my future colleagues and business associates. Simply beginning with a firm handshake, I am adapting in various business events as well as comparing how people from different backgrounds interact with each other in this special environment.

When I am still exploring the differences and fascinated with what I’ve encountered, I cannot help wonder: What is Chinese business culture like from a foreign perspective? How do you successfully build up business relationships with Chinese professionals? I found the following tips from a foreign angle regarding how to foster a healthy business relationship in China. There might be some overlapping in terms of American style, however, it’s absolutely no harm to take a quick look if China is (or will be) your next stop for a business trip. From World Business Culture:

  1. Guanxi, or personal relationships are of vital importance when doing business in China. Do not underestimate the importance of the relationship building process.
  2. People are comfortable building relationships with honorable people who show respect to those to whom respect is due.
  3. As all relationships are unequal it is important, if you wish to appear honorable, to show respect to age, seniority and educational background.
  4. Managers tend to be directive, which reflects basic Confucian concepts of the hierarchical nature of society.
  5. In return for loyalty, the boss is expected to show consideration and interest in all aspects of a subordinates' life.
  6. There are often close relationships between senior management of a company and local party officials.
  7. It is important that you do not make people 'lose face' in front of their group. Always respect seniority and do not openly disagree with people.
  8. Do as many favors for people as possible - debts must always be repaid.
  9. Business cards should be formally exchanged at the beginning of meetings. Treat the business card with great respect, as the card is the man.
  10. Meetings are often long and seemingly without clear objectives. Very often the meeting is an exercise in relationship-building and the aim of the meeting is to move the relationship, rather than any specific business task, forward.

There are another 10 tips on the World Business Culture website.

By Maria Wang, Full-time UST MBA class of 2013