Learning Chinese is the Key to Lasting Business Relationships
As one of the biggest industrial powers in the world, China presents many business opportunities for any individual or company that wants to make a fortune. Many businessmen or representatives that go to this country in order to push a transaction usually don’t bother learning Chinese, and prefer taking a translator along for the trip. Although the procedure described above can work, doing so doesn’t always ensure a long-lasting relationship with these Asian entrepreneurs. It’s important to understand that the current generation of Chinese capitalists isn’t too comfortable with the English language, and will always prefer dealing with a foreigner that’s capable of speaking in the native tongue.
Learning Chinese, both basic and business, would definitely grant any individual an edge when it comes to negotiating within China. Working on basic grammar, terms and overall fluency will definitely make you appear more credible, and therefore, a better business partner.However, becoming a fluent speaker is just the first step in establishing a long-lasting business relationship with these Asians – learning Chinese business practices and values is an absolute must if one wishes to do so.
As you probably already know, Western and Eastern business practices can vastly differ from one another in several aspects. In the West, after a transaction between two companies pushes through, a relationship usually ensues. On the other hand, the East does things quite the opposite: a relationship is ideally established first, and then the actual commercial transaction pushes through.
The majority of successful transactions and enduring business relationships between the Chinese and foreigners are built around a relationship of trust. Moreover, learning Chinese business elements, such as “Guanxi” is an essential factor for the creation of a solid bond between two companies.
Literally, Guanxi means “relationship”, but in the business world of China, it means something more: the term refers to a network of relationships amongst a variety of parties. Each party within the network continuously cooperates and supports one another for the mutual benefit of everyone.If Guanxi is cultivated, a lasting business relationship with one or several Chinese companies can be established.
As this business element is further developed, the relationship will eventually become more valuable than any commercial transaction that’d take place in the future. Also, favors are actually expected to be constantly and voluntarily given amongst themselves.
However, it’s crucial you understand that the obligations of Guanxi are strictly enforced. In some instances with the wrong people, at the wrong place, these responsibilities can turn into an unfortunate trap for westerners.
Aside from learning Chinese business elements or becoming a fluent speaker of the native language, there are other factors that can help form a long-lasting business relationship within the country. The tips described above are simply the fundamental principles that a businessman should take into consideration before handling commercial transactions with the Chinese.