Guanxi – the key to being successful in China

Here we are again with another post from our business series!

Previously we gave you a little taster into the 8 do’s and don’t’s of business etiquette in China, where the concept of ‘guanxi’ was briefly touched upon. But in order to give a clearer perspective, today’s post will be dedicated to understanding the importance of guanxi in Chinese business culture.

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What is guanxi?

Many westerners have failed to grasp the concept of guanxi due to its loose translation – ‘relationships’, ‘connections’ and ‘networking’ are all ample definitions. But, more than simply ‘networking’, guanxi forces both partners to be devoted to strengthening a professional and personal relationship over a long period of time.

Guanxi can be maintained through the mutual willingness of  granting favours with a strong adherence to loyalty and trustworthiness.
Essentially, we can call upon the well-known cliché, ill scratch your back if you scratch mine.

Building lifelong relationships is deep-rooted in Chinese business and culture as a whole, stemming from ancient Confucian ideals that have continued to influence the way in which Chinese people socialize.

How strong guanxi can help you in business

1. Having strong guanxi builds up the dependency and trust between a relationship inside and outside of work.

2. There is a ‘moral obligation’ to uphold certain standards of business within a strong guanxi, therefore ensuring honest and smooth dealings between business partnerships in China.

3. In hoping to break into the Chinese market, maintaining a strong guanxi network will help your company secure resources and information, which will lead to greater strategic capability.

4. Allowing your guanxi to mature over a long period of time will surely reap great benefits, helping business to flourish.

Just as linguistic fluency is vital to business exchange abroad, we must remember that a strong appreciation and awareness of different business cultures is equally important to you and your company.

So start building your guanxi – it could be the start of something great.

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