With a population of more than 1300 millions and an average growth of more than 8% every year, Chinese market offers a wide range of possibilities. However, before taking any steps ahead, you need to be aware of some of their particularities if you want to success.
It is necessary to take into account not only economic and legal aspects. but also and more importantly, cultural aspects.
We offer here ten cultural points about Chinese culture and protocol that you need to remember if you are going to make business in China for the first time.
1. Non invasive greeting
To show that you are open minded and willing to listen to your future partner's ideas, it is necessary to slightly bow your torso and head. In a country with an hierarchical society, this gesture shows respect and it will be done at the beginning of the meeting and at the end of it.
2. Name card
The name card will be given at the beginning of the meeting. Using both hands when giving and receiving name cards shows that it is very valuable for you. When someone give you a name card, it is important to examine it on both sides, showing interest about the person who gave it to you. Writing on the name card or putting it in your wallet shows disrespect.
When the meeting is taking place with more than one participant, leaving all the name cards on the table will help you to remember names.
3. Trust is interpersonal and takes time to build
A common safeguard against opportunism is to build relationships of trust with persons who matter for your business. Unlike in the West, the creation of personal friendship is a prerequisite of doing business. Building friendship takes time, which is another reason to avoid rushing into things. Besides numerous invitations to sports and other events, one key element in building trust is long dinners during which everything but business is discussed. In these, alcohol plays an important role. Learn to drink intelligently.
Very often, Chinese businessman travel with an interpreter. It is very important to look at the person who makes the decisions. Only when the decision maker finish, we can look at the interpreter.
5. Don't refuse
In those long dinners, and when Chinese people are the hosts, they will invite to eat or drink things that you might not be use to eat or drink. It is very rude to refuse and it is a gesture that shows empathy and "breaks the ice".
6. Yes, it is not always yes.
In order to show that they are paying attention to what you are saying, Chinese businessman will always say yes. However, this doesn't mean that they agree with everything.
7. Use the expertise of someone with previous experience
Enter into the Chinese market is not easy. Having the expertise of someone with previous experience doing business in China and dealing with Chinese people, will give you a good advantage not only preparing the negotiation but also during it.
8. Learn some basic Chinese
Although it is not strictly necessary, learning some basic Chinese always help to generate empathy and gain the trust of your counterpart. It shows interest about what you are about to do. Basic words or sentences like Ni-hao (hello) or xie-xie (thank you) could be very useful.
9. Business etiquette
When choosing your attire, using dark colors like blue or grey is acceptable. Black will never be wear because of the obvious connotations. Using a red detail like your tie, it is very advisable. Red color in the Chinese culture represents good fortune.
10. A watch is never an option to gift.
For some Chinese, using a watch as a gift could be a reminder of the time they have left in this world. It is more advisable to use specialties from your own country. This way you will also have a good conversation topic, that will help you start "breaking the ice". Using the logo of your company in the wrapper paper will also help you to make your company present during the negotiation.