China is one of the most traveled countries for business purposes. The country has a lot of business opportunities, and many companies explore the option to work with businesses in China. If you are traveling to China for business, especially if it is your first time, it is important to learn about what to expect before you arrive.
Many people feel nervous the first time going because there is so much to remember. If your company is relying on you to make a good impression, it can feel like a lot of pressure as the business culture in China is very different compared to the rest of the world. Below are some things to consider when traveling to China for business.
Make Advanced Preparations
One of the most important things to know about business meetings in China is that it is considered extremely rude to be late. Ironically, China’s airports are reported to have some of the worst delays. This means you really need to plan your flight so that you give yourself hours before your meeting. This way, in case your flight is delayed, you will still arrive at the meeting on time. Being late is not a good first impression and may even hurt your opportunity.
Guanxi – What is That?
This is a term the Chinese use for making friends before business partners. It is a process that cannot be rushed. The main idea is that you must get to know your business partners before you agree to work with one another. This may be in the form of a dinner or event where it is customary to ignore the work talk and get to know each other. If there is an event planned upon your arrival, be careful to not talk about work itself. Wait until it is brought up to you.
Bring a Special Gift
It is customary to bring a special gift when going into a business meeting. Since many people in China do not get the opportunity to travel abroad during their lifetime, they are appreciative when a gift is given that comes from your home country. This could be in the form of some kind of special food such as chocolate or nuts that are from your homeland.
If you are doing business with someone from China, you should plan ahead to get business cards made that will leave a lasting impression. It is suggested that the business cards are two-sided. One side should have your information in English, and the other in Chinese. This will not only show that you understand the customs of their culture but will also leave a good impression that you are attempting to learn the language and have put in the effort. You should also know the correct way to give and receive the cards.
When receiving the card from a potential business partner, you should take it with two hands and carefully look at it to show you are interested in the information. Don’t just shove it in your pocket, either. Place it safely in your wallet or purse. When giving the business card, hand it over with two hands and make sure the Chinese side is up.
Learn Some Phrases
As with going to any country, you will make them feel respected if you learn some simple phrases. This is a simple kindness that shows you are interested in their language and culture. Learn how to say simple things like, “Hello” and “Thank you”. This will leave a positive impression on anyone you encounter. You are not expected to speak fluent Chinese, so don’t stress out about it before your trip. Just show kindness by learning and remembering some simple sentences and when to use them.
Make Sure You Have Proper Registrations
Chances are if you are traveling to China, you and your company have thought this process out. There is a lot to plan when you are traveling to China for business. Not only are you required to have a passport, but you also need to apply for a Chinese Visa before you go. Without it, you may not be allowed to enter the country. Also, take into consideration that your passport must be up to date and cannot expire within 6 months of your arrival. If your passport is set to expire within 6 months, you also may be denied entry.
If you are not planning to stay at a hotel, you must register with the local police department, otherwise, you may be considered as noncompliant and could even be fined. If you are staying at a hotel, your information is automatically sent to the local police department when you check in. Finally, if you are traveling from the US, you should check into the US Embassy so they can keep you updated on travel information and even help you and your family in the event of an emergency.
Consider Getting a VPN
A VPN is a virtual private network. The Chinese government puts a lot of restrictions on internet usage when in the country. With a VPN that was purchased before your trip from your home country, you will not have the firewalls that the government sets up. If you end up getting a VPN when already in the country, you will find that many of those restrictions are in place. VPNs cost from $60 – $70 for a year, which isn’t bad.
A few other miscellaneous pieces of advice when traveling to China for business are to write down your hotel address in Chinese. This is important in case your phone dies. Instead of having to recall the information for the cab driver or to ask someone directions, you can have it written on a piece of paper that you can show a person. Another important thing to remember about Chinese culture is that putting others’ needs before your own is customary to make a good impression. Adopt local practices, and be genuinely interested in learning the language.
This is a lot to remember, but you can make it a successful business trip. You are already doing a great job reading up on what you need to know for your trip, so you will be all set. The most important thing to remember is to be kind and follow these tips.