How to do business in China  

If you are travelling to China to do business, either for the short or the long term, you will need to prepare yourself for the cultural differences between here and the west. Here we present some simple tips that will help you on your way to succeeding when you go to work in China.
Make strong connections
Business all over the globe is about making connections though, in China, this is particularly true. Trust is everything and, until you've gained the trust of the people with whom you want to do business, you won't get anywhere. Once you show that you are reliable, however, a Chinese business person will happily let you into their circle of connections. Often a single, strong influential connection will be all you need to make open the door to a successful business career. The best way to do this? Don't jump straight into business. Chinese business people like to make friends before talking about money. This will show them you are a long term operator and not just after a quick buck.
This is not a hard sell environment
While you might be used to high pressure business deals and meetings, that kind of thing does not wash in China. Here, influential business people will not respect you pressuring them for a quick decision but will prefer you to state your position honestly, openly and logically. That does not mean you have to be weak – in fact, you should make it clear at all times that you can walk away from the table. Yet trying to coerce them into giving you what you want as quickly as possible will not get you anywhere. Patience is essential.
Show respect to people on your side
In China there is a code of honour attached to how you do business. Key to this is treating all colleagues with the utmost respect. Therefore, publically questioning or criticising a member of your workforce or team is considered both rude and unprofessional. Tact and delicacy is very much the order of the day.
“No” is not always an option
The Chinese do not say “no” very easily. This does not mean, however, that they will say yes to everything. What passes for a positive answer in the west could, actually, be an indirect no in China. Learn the difference.
The Chinese do not say “no” very easily. This does not mean, however, that they will say yes to everything. What passes for a positive answer in the west could, actually, be an indirect no in China. Learn the difference.
When speaking in English, use short sentences
When you are dealing with a Chinese person who understands English, it is often easy to fall into the trap of thinking they will understand everything. Don't forget that they are speaking a foreign language and accommodating your inability to speak their language.
Credibility is everything
The Chinese will not respect you for ‘winging it'. They will expect you to be well prepared and to have studied the matter at hand in detail before your meeting. Presenting half-baked thoughts or just spitballing ideas will not go down well, so don't do it. Think hard before you open your mouth.
Document everything
When it comes to business, the Chinese like things mapped out clearly and concisely. Charts, diagrams and sketches will all be welcome as will plenty of plain text and straightforward wording. And, in line with the previous tip, do not ever present partial data, only hard facts.

Top