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Learnings from China II – Whom I know

China II

As some of you might know from my first China article, in the end of September I traveled to China for the first time. Now I have been here for two weeks and it has been an eye-opening experience. For example, integration of the mobile Internet into everyday life still gives me an inspiration overdose every day. Luckily today I am having a small break while going from Beijing to Shanghai on a bullet train.

Before my interest towards China, I have been having a long relationship with Russia. My most important Russia-related learnings are that in Russia ‘whom I know’ matters a lot, and the line between personal and business relationships is not that strict (than for example in Finland) – it may be very late on a Friday evening or quite early on a Sunday morning when it is time to talk business.

During my short time in Beijing, I realized that China has similar elements – it looks like ‘whom I know’ matters a lot too. Moreover, the time when people take care of business-related matters is also similar to the Russian approach. Though Chinese and Russian cultures differ a lot, it is great to realize that I do not have to navigate completely blindfolded. Naturally building a network is much more than using a proper strategy and good tactics. In the end, it is all about the value that I bring to the table and whether I can be helpful to someone or not.

Building a network in China

So, what does it take to build a network in China? In my yet limited experience (aka two lunches and two dinners with locals), I have noticed that it means a fair amount of eating, drinking tea and talking about all the other things than the business itself. Courtesy and politeness are appreciated as well. I must admit that all this combined is not the easiest thing for a straight-forward Finn, but hey, we all need to take those first steps at some point.

While I am continuing my China journey in Shanghai, I would love to hear some thoughts from Western China veterans as well as Chinese business professionals – could you share some of your biggest networking learnings for this China rookie and everyone else interested in this topic?

Thanks for reading!

PS. Feel free to share the joy. Thanks!

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