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Making Contact

Making Contacts

Whenever possible, obtain an introduction. Connections and relationships, known as quanxi, are very important. The right connections can ensure you an attentive audience for your proposal and subsequent interactions. Guanxi also incorporates an element of graft, for those who have the connections will often try to profit from them. Guanxi creates an interdependency between the two parties because favors received must be reciprocated at some future time.

If you are representing a well known international company, you can send a letter to the senior most person in a Chinese company in which you state your purpose for contacting him or her. However, quanxi, will give you the right connections.

When sending an initial letter it is a good idea to have the letter translated into Chinese. It is not necessary to translate everything you send to China. Make sure there is sufficient interest on the other end before you translate much of your marketing literature and the like, because translation costs could become expensive.

You should hire a local representative or consultant to monitor deals and relationships in your absence and to maintain a constant presence for your company in China. This is particularly important if you are sourcing from or selling to China. When hiring a local representative, be sure to carefully check references and to obtain a list of his or her former and current clients. With the increased interest in China, there are numerous people and individuals in China to be able to work the magic in addition to having high level contacts.

Once you have decided to visit China, either you, your counterpart, or local representatives should schedule meetings for you at least one to tow weeks in advance of your arrival. Before your arrival, make your desires regarding accommodations and the like known to your business contact. This can be particularly important if you represent a small firm with limited budget. The Chinese tend to believe that all foreigners, particularly Westerners, are wealthy and can therefore afford to pay for all services. Arrangements may be made without consulting you and you may be overwhelmed with hospitality. You should feel comfortable in politely declining any service that you do not want.

Foreign visitors can be surprised to discover that their Chinese business contact will make an effort to keep them entertained at all times. In China, a host's responsibility includes fulfilling needs and ensuring the comfort, care and protection of their guests. If you wish to spend some time alone, indicate so very politely.

Posted by on 2012-06-12

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