Hello monkeys, just thought about doing this since it's applicable to many industries (i.e. Investment Banking, Management Consulting, Private Banking, and many more)
Beginning the Relationship
- Always remember the saying, "Let's first become friends, then do business." This is vital! Remember that it's building relationships first, then do business later. Westerners may find that it is the other way around.
- Start from the bottom. Subordinates can either be your best friend or your worst enemy! If you treat them well, they'll definitely pass this on to higher management as someone that can help the business in many ways. The reverse is true as well.
- Try your best to meet the client/partner face-to-face. For example, my father regularly has business trips to China simply to "make relationships" and nothing more. They rarely talk business! Of course, this may look like a very slow and costly relationship building especially in the banking industry where everything goes by real fast.
Getting down to business
- In China, it is very common that business is done over dinner and drinks, unlike in Western countries where it's done in boardrooms or on the golf course. One thing worth noting is that most "contracts" are done through conversations and not on paper. Of course, there are some risks that the "contract" may not be fully fulfilled since they're done informally.
- Always, and I mean ALWAYS "fight" to pay for the food and drinks. This is often seen as a good indicator of how thrifty you'd be later on.
- Table etiquette is very, very important. There are very many "rules" that need to be followed, but take it slow; foreigners certainly get more lenience. Just make sure you don't do some taboo things like sticking chopsticks in the center of the rice, as this is the way to sacrifice and is therefore considered to be inauspicious. Take a look at this for more information: Customs and etiquette in Chinese dining
- It is customary to drink while/after the meal. Make sure you have a strong liver and don't reject drink offers/toasts (unless, of course, you think you're drunk!)
- Don't take offense to the Chinese way of "making relationships". For example, they may ask you direct questions, for example, if you're a man, you might be asked about your financial assets; if you're a woman, you will undoubtedly be asked about your marital status.
Keeping in contact
- I think this aspect is pretty much the same as the Western way of doing business. Keep contact regularly, make phone calls, ask your clients out for lunch/dinner, and treat them well when they're in your city!
- Control your temper when things don't go your way. Save your client's "face" when something bad happens. This concept of "face" is very important in China, and it refers to a person's dignity and reputation. Don't ever let it flush down the drain due to some minor problem.
I guess that's it! Feel free to add more, I might've missed some important things too.
Doing Business in China
10 Subtle Cultural Mistakes You May Make Doing Business in China