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9 DOs and DON’Ts for business meetings in China

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The Chinese market has been growing exponentially over the last few years. Importing and exporting with the Chinese is now vital to the whole world, as they are a growing producer and manufacturer. Not only that, but their interest in western brands, services, goods and values is growing at a fast pace. Doing business in China might be a cost-effective idea for any business. But how do you get your business in this country, which can appear quite dissimilar to the rest of the world?

You know that communicating in the language of the ones with which you are trying to do business is crucial. But what do you do when you have to be there and speak their language even if you don’t know it? That’s where professional Chinese translation and interpreting services step in. First, hire a professional interpreter. Then, take into consideration these pieces of advice for when you’re at a business meeting in China:

Business Meetings in CHINA Infographic

9 DOs and DON’Ts for business meetings in China

  • DO… shake hands upon meeting. Chinese people may nod or bow instead of shaking hands, but shaking hands has become increasingly common. When introduced to a Chinese group, they may greet you with applause. You should applaud in return.
  • DO… exchange a modest gift with all your business colleagues at the first meeting. Not giving a gift could start a business meeting off on the wrong foot. Always give a gift to everyone present or don’t give gifts at all. The gifts should be presented with both hands. You should offer the gift a second time if they refuse it; they are just being polite.
  • DO… exchange business cards. Business cards should be printed in Chinese on one side and English/your language on the other. Pay attention to the style of writing. Simplified Chinese characters are to be used. Only if you are doing business in Taiwan and Hong Kong should you use traditional Chinese characters.
  • DO… address the Chinese by their professional titles and last name. For instance, if the CEO of the company you want to do business with is named Fa Ping, note that Fa is the last name and Ping is the given name. You should address Fa Ping as Director Fa. If you don’t know the professional title, Mr., Mrs. and Miss and family name are accepted. Only use the given name if specifically asked.
  • DON’T… be late. Meetings always begin on time in China. Punctuality is tremendously important for Chinese business people. Being late is considered rude.
  • DON’T… overdress. When meeting Chinese business people, you should avoid overly fashionable clothes. Conservative, simple, unpretentious, modest clothing is more suitable. Men should wear sport coats and ties or open-necked shirts in the summer; women should wear dresses or pant suits for business and avoid heavy make-up and opulent jewellery.
  • DON’T… expect English to be spoken during your business meetings in China. It is best to hire a professional interpreter or to ask for one to be provided. You should also know that some Chinese may understand English, but will choose to say nothing. Don’t speak ill of anybody during the meeting.
  • DON’T… interrupt any period of silence at a business meeting. Let the host have the first word after a longer silence.
  • DON’T… expect easy negotiations – not even after signing a contract. Negotiations may last for more than ten days and signing a contract does not necessarily mean that they will end. When they change their minds, the Chinese may become increasingly inflexible, forcing you to break off negotiations.

Stay tuned. The next list of DOs and DON’Ts will address business meetings in Brazil.

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