Tips on how to do business in China

Chew Jia Zhen, 27, was posted to Shanghai, China, for work in 2013. At first, getting used to the lifestyle there may have been a bit of a culture shock to her, but now Jia Zhen is thriving  there and she has been enjoying herself in Shanghai.

Chew Jia Zhen.

Chew Jia Zhen now lives and works in Shanghai, China.

I gleaned some tips from the China Product Development Director on doing business in China – as this thriving and fast-expanding Asian market is fast becoming a popular place for more people to gain business experience. In fact, more and more global companies too, are posting their employees to major cities in China for work to tap into this growing Asian sector.

Here are some tips that Jia Zhen is sharing with about doing business in China.

1) Be personable

There is preference for a personable approach when doing business in China. So this means that you should chitchat and engage your customers on a personal level. For example, you could ask them about their family, sometimes.

2) Means of Communication

Email is not the most popular means of business communication, except perhaps in Multi National Corporations (MNCs) but then again, preference differs according to each individual.

Messaging services like WeChat is good for communication in Shanghai. Photo Credit:

Messaging services like WeChat is good for communication in Shanghai.
Photo Credit:

The best form of communication is through face to face and via social media such as WeChat and WhatsApp. The impersonal email is the last preferred communication channel for business, except at the finalisation of a deal. If you find yourself frequently communicating and negotiating via email – but have lost hours or days in getting feedback, try other types of communication.

3) Do not go by the books

This combines with being personable. Things are not always in black and white, especially when people flourish by working in the grey areas there. Building trust and strong give and take relationships are more important.

4) When things are going too smoothly, get worried and think twice

A smile with a “yes” may not simply mean “yes.” And if things are going very well, get worried. In these situations, think of worse case scenarios, and try to get former commitments or arrange back-up plans quickly.

5) The worst case scenario is usually not the worst

Keep an open mind. Photo Credit:

Keep an open mind, when doing business in China
Photo Credit:

Things may divert to unimaginable directions. Imagination is the limit. Keep an open mind when you encounter surprises which will likely be countless, no matter how much planning has been involved. Take a deep breath, keep an open mind and evaluate the best options – note the plural.

According to Jia Zhen, adapting quickly is the key to doing well in business – in China.

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