Chinese Business Culture – Developing and maintaining ‘guanxi’ when negotiating in the Greater China Region

In Chinese business culture the closest English translation for ‘guanxi’ is relationship. Building ‘guanxi’ is an important ingredient when doing business and negotiating with a Chinese people. In fact without some level of ‘guanxi’ it would be difficult to conduct business in the Greater China Region.

In the Greater China Region the lines between friends, business, work and leisure are often blurred. When dealing with Chinese people, some of the ways you can develop and maintain ‘guanxi’ are through gift giving (when and where appropriate), acknowledging Chinese festivals, pronouncing Chinese names correctly, inviting your Chinese business contacts to your country or hosting a meal. Never underestimate the power and small talk at the banquette table. If the Chinese person feels good about communicating with you when they are socialising at a banquette, they are likely to want to do business with you.

The development of ‘guanxi’ often commences with the exchange of a favour, which may involve being asked to assist your Chinese contacts in situations that are not in your scope of knowledge or authority. Even if you know very little about the situation, it is important that you still make an attempt to help your Chinese contacts. You can do this by finding someone who has the expertise to help solve your Chinese contact’s enquiry.

Like any relationship, ‘guanxi’ takes effort and time to create and to maintain.

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