Culture Tips: Bring Your Business Cards

Monday, June 5, 2006 10:45
Posted in category The Big Picture
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In china, the business card is very important. whether you are at a trade show, at an AMCHAM meeting, or at the local pub, make sure to always carry your business card. Networking in China is a necessary activity, a large part of why you and your executives are flying half way around the world, and you need to be prepared.

To get you ready, here are some tips:

1) Have your cards translated into Chinese.
I do not know how many times I see executives fly to China with English only cards.

While a complete translation is not needed, make sure you have the major fields (telephone, email, fax, etc). If your firm does not have a Chinese name, do not worry. however, take the 5 minutes necessary to visit Mandarin Tools and have names of key executives translated.

To take it up another level, contact your local WTC. often times they have a list of service providers to assist.

2) When trading business cards, use the thumbs and index finger of both hands to hand the card to your counterpart.
Make sure the Chinese side is facing the recipient so that they can easily take the card and read your information.

Chinese executives, especially ones that are your counterparts, take this step quite seriously and will spend time reviewing the card. For companies that have chosen Chinese names, take care in doing so. Often times, foreign companies chose characters that allow for a near phonetic sound of the english name to be recognizable in chinese. For Example, Coca Cola is (可口可乐 KeKo KeLa), however they missed their first time….

For a professional job, contact large PR firms like APCO or Ogilvy who specialize in PR, media, and branding…..and spend the money. If your intention is to build a platform in China, the money will be wisely spent.

A U.S. based firm recently spoke of the 25,000USD fee they just paid not as an expense, but as an investment. for them, the fee was a marginal expense, but a necessary investment to allow their representatives in China build a multimillion dollar market.

3) Spend time reviewing the cards that are given to you, and keep track of who is whom.
A sign of respect, studying the card and looking serous is a good first step to building stronger relationships. Of course at a trade show, it may not be possible to spend a lot of time on each card, but make sure and spend the time for those that you know will matter in the future.

Ask how to pronounce the characters of someone’s name (李 – Li, 王 – Wang, 张 – Zhang, 白- Bai, and 夏 – Xia are all common surnames). If you learn the above 4 by sight and point out that you know… bonus points!!

At a banquet or dinner, put the cards in order around the table. It is not uncommon to see others do this as a way to remind oneself of those sitting around the table.

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