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!