7 tips to optimize your communication strategy when doing business with China

July 19, 2013

There are many great reasons for doing business with China, but dramatic cultural differences between East and West often result in failed ventures. Communication strategies and language access are of the utmost importance in bridging the cultural divide. Take a look at our list of 7 tips to optimize your communication strategy when doing business with China.

#1. Break through the Language Barrier
Many Chinese people speak little or no English, so be prepared to hire a local interpreter who has knowledge of the local language and culture. Chinese translation services will also be useful, to ensure that e-mails and other documents will be understood by everyone involved. You might consider a partnership with a local business person who can put you in contact with the right people and guide you through the maze of bureaucracy that goes along with doing business in China.

#2. Greetings
The typical greeting for a business meeting in China is a handshake, accompanied by a slight bow of the head. While a firm handshake is positive in America, a vigorous handshake in China may make you appear aggressive. Maintain a calm demeanor and a formal body posture at all times to show that you have the virtue of self-control.

#3. Guan Xi
“Guan Xi”, which means relationship-building, is the cornerstone for success when doing business in China. Be prepared to spend time networking and socializing with potential business partners. Always carry translated business cards, and when accepting another person’s card, place it in a case instead of your pocket or wallet. This shows that you will treat the contact with care.

#4. Mian Zi
“Mian Zi”, which means face-building, relates to the maintenance of one’s good reputation or honor. When doing business in China, it is important to “give face” by complimenting your hosts and showing respect towards them. Equally important is “showing face” by demonstrating wisdom and avoiding mistakes.

#5. Do Your Homework
Meetings in China should be scheduled well in advance so that both parties may prepare extensively. Your potential Chinese business partners will want to conduct a detailed investigation into you and your company, so help them out by providing any relevant information. Try to learn as much as you can about the people you will be meeting, to show that you took the time to prepare for the meeting as well.

#6. Be punctual
Arriving late to a business meeting in China is disrespectful, so plan to get there early. Begin with small talk about your positive experiences in China, and then get right to the core issue at hand. Secondary issues are best left until later.

#7. Negotiate
When doing business in China, you must be prepared to go through negotiations to get what you want. Chinese businesspeople will be seeking concessions, so be willing to compromise. Never lose your cool in negotiations, and avoid expressing negative emotions such as frustration or anger.

Follow these 7 tips to ensure smooth, fluid communication when doing business with China.

If you would like additional information on this topic or have questions on planning and executing your next translation or multilingual initiative, contact us today for a free 30-minute consultation or call us at (800) 413-7838.

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