China is the largest supplier of goods to the United States, and the trade of goods and services between the two nations is a multi-billion-dollar relationship. But in order to gain a foothold in the global sourcing industry, there are some cultural and business customs you will do well to adhere to if you want successful.

ElkSourcing can act as a liaison between you and suppliers, and accompany you on overseas supplier visits and meetings. However, there are some important customs you need to be aware of before you go. Here’s a quick guide to get you through the trip embarrassment-free.

1. Relationships before business. There is a saying in China that you don’t discuss business until the third cup of tea. The Chinese place great importance and value in developing relationships first and conducting business second. The best course of action is to learn about your host’s country, culture, interests, and share your own interests. Once trust and cooperation has been established, then get down to business.

2. Always be on time. While the Chinese are occasionally late to meetings, your punctuality is a sign of respect. The pace of business in China is somewhat different; so don’t be put off if your hosts are late to a meeting. Just don’t cause the delay!

3. Pay attention to your body language. Talking with your hands, pointing, waving, and gesturing are rude in China. Talking with your hands in your pockets is also disrespectful. Even a simple handshake should be handled in a modest manner. Too firm a grip, too much hand pumping, or too long of a handshake can be considered aggressive. Also, it’s customary to pass and offer things, such as dishes at a meal, with your right hand rather than your left.

4. Keep a calm demeanour.  Avoid being overly boisterous or too forward with potential business partners. Instead, approach business negotiations with a calm demeanour, patience, and dignity, and you’ll win the day.

5. Be prepared to dine and drink. Entertaining is a vital component to Chinese business culture. The Chinese like to conduct business over lunch or dinner, and they enjoy having drinks during and after the meal! Business deals often are completed over a meal. Make sure that you plan for this in your daily schedule.


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