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How to Network in China as a Foreigner

In China knowing the right people could catapult your career into areas you didn’t know existed. Building a network or

In China knowing the right people could catapult your career into areas you didn’t know existed. Building a network or as Chinese call it ‘Guānxì’ in China can prove highly beneficial. The word Guānxì literally translates to relationship or connection. Building a good network as a foreigner depends on the relationships that you build with the people around you especially in Business. Here are some helpful tips on how to network in China as a foreigner. Also review some of the Chinese cultural insights here

How to Network in China as a Foreigner
Source: iStock/Rawpixel

Connect with confidence

The concept of good Guānxì was introduced by Confucius, he believed it was important to form trustworthy, wholesome, and respectful connections with the people around you. This is done in order to maintain good social relations. The Chinese culture regards good Guānxì very highly, because it shows that you are confident in integrating within the Chinese culture. In addition it shows you are willing to form and maintain good relations among those around you.

Drink and Eat together

The concept of drinking tea in China is a well-respected tradition. The tea is used in special ceremonies and is used to accept visitors into their homes or closing a deal. The invitation to tea must be honored by both parties as a sign of respect. An invitation to lunch and dinner in China shows interest and respect. As such one must honor this invitation and be aware of the customs surrounding eating in China. Sharing a meal in China is considered a sign of opening up and trusting each other. It is a time to be merry and drink.

Learn some Chinese

Your dedication to learning the culture and language of the Chinese is a bonus when it comes to how to network in China as a foreigner. Even if it is basic Mandarin, the effort you put into learning their language shows you have some level of interest to communicate with them. Take some Chinese classes, volunteer at local organizations and watch movies to help you improve on your Chinese. When it comes to the deep business talks, its ok to hire a professional translator. This is to help you, but do not miss out on the opportunity to communicate in the little Chinese you know. Here are some useful apps you need to download before coming to China

Giving Gifts in Early on is a NO

Think about it, wouldn’t it be weird if someone you didn’t know personally just gave you a huge gift? Gift giving in the Chinese culture is very different from the western culture. There are certain do’s and don’ts of gift giving. It may be better to get to know the person and customs before giving a gift.

Connect through their Social Media

With the largest population on earth, China has multiple online social media platforms which you can use to connect with them. The biggest and most popular is WeChat. It is very difficult to pass by someone who does not have this app in their smartphone in China. Don’t be shy to ask for a connection on WeChat. In fact, it is recommended. Develop connections using their social media apps and links so that even when you leave China, you are able to continue the good Guānxì with your network.

connection on WeChat

Keep in Contact with Alumni

Your school probably has a group for alumni, connect with them. You might find that they have experiences and valuable information about the job market in China. They can also give to tips on how to overcome certain hurdles that they themselves went through.

Give before you receive

Instead of flat out asking for help, offer a service or opportunity to your potential contact. Give your services and skills first. Your network will be grateful when returning the favor.

Some additional tips you might need:

Make your Business card Bilingual
  • Make your Business card Bilingual. By including Chinese on your business card, it will help you reach a larger audience. When giving out the card, give it with your name facing upwards and hold it with both hands as a sign of respect
  • Practice and memorize certain phrases and words that you will have to use in a conversation.
  • Attend networking events and conventions in your area and around China. Do not be afraid to travel or pay for a ticket to the event. You can even volunteer at the event.
  • Build your online presence on networks like LinkedIn.
  • Remember that you don’t always have to gain a contact. Sometimes someone you know may benefit from the contact so you refer them instead of yourself. Your referral can not only benefit you indirectly but also benefit someone else.
  • Remember to touch base with a contact if you have lost communication over the years. Rekindle that good Guānxì in your network.
  • Create an emotional connection with Chinese, but not too personal. Be lively and fun to talk to even with the Language barrier.

The hope that from this article you have a simple idea on how to network in China as a foreigner. Networking plays an important role when it comes to job searching. Don’t overlook it.

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