As more and more foreign corporations and individuals go to tap the Chinese market, it is better to know some Chinese practices in business contacts and negotiation beforehand.
When the establishment of initial business contacts is referred, introduction letters may be the first ready answer for those who are familiar with the old system of planned economy. The purchasing agent had to take an introduction letter made out by the factory director when getting into touch with other factories. After the policy of opening to the outside world was adopted, more convenient ways emerged. You can establish contacts by phone, fax, email and more and more Chinese corporations have set up their own websites. After the first phase, an investigation to the company in person may show your sincerity to cooperate.
When negotiation is entered, the right of decision-making often depends on who are present at the meeting. In most cases, verbal communications are enough. Too many gestures may leave others an impression of arrogance. As to eye contact, when you speak, looking into others" eyes will do, for cultural differences puts a limit on it. And you"d better not take the Chinese nod for agreement; it"s only a sign that they are listening attentively. Chinese prefer formal meetings, but after that is usually a dinner together to show their hospitality. However some Westerners think it a waste at public expense. One piece of advice may be "Do as the Chinese do." When you become acquaintance with the Chinese partner, a private lunch meeting or dinner at home is a good opportunity to know each other.
In China you should not be surprised to see many business women taking up positions like director, general manager, president and etc. They play such an important role in the society as to "prop up half of the sky." Generally speaking, career women demand no more respect than men. But they will particularly appreciate the gentlemanly manners.
Chinese think punctuality is a virtue and try to practice it especially in the business world. Chinese usually tend to come a bit earlier to show their earnestness. And it would not be regarded as being late if you come within 10 minutes.