Walking the Guanxi talk

Walking the Guanxi talk

IKefeng Chu Kefeng Chu

When it comes to doing business in China, it’s all about Guanxi* – the social networks and influential relationships and affiliations which can help smooth the way and get things done.

In July this year, fresh from his role as Chief Advisor China at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), Kefeng Chu joined his wife Jennifer Chen in their business ‘Richiwi’ .

For a number of years Richiwi has been operating as a trading company for a range of NZ products into the China market and the value and importance of Guanxi has been fundamental to the Richiwi approach.

In promoting Guanxi, Kefeng and Jennifer draw on their extensive knowledge, experience and networks to help New Zealand businesses succeed in the China market. They provide advice, insights and services in the areas of strategy and business planning; trade; investment; exporting; and the intricacies of setting up and doing business in China.

For Kiwi companies looking to do business in China, there are some dos and don’ts well worth practicing says Kefeng: 

To promote Guanxi DO: 

  1. Spend time with your distributors or partners in China. They tend to treat you as VIPs and will host you at high-end restaurant feasts and take you sightseeing. In return you should host a meal. [You know you’re close to success when they start hosting you at ordinary restaurants rather than high-end establishments!]
  2. Talk to your Chinese counterparts about their religion. Usually successful Chinese business people go to Buddhist temples, so ask if you can go to a temple with them if they are Buddhists.
  3. Take unique NZ gifts with you during your China trips and give them to the key people you work with, including the owner/director and his/her team.

In order to succeed DON’T underestimate:

  1. The power of language – speaking basic Chinese will build extra confidence and trust with Chinese people.
  2. The competition from European countries which are very proactive in the China market. Be articulate about the advantages of NZ products/your brand.
  3. The power of the Chinese business community in NZ. Identify key contacts and use the local NZ Chinese media to initially promote/test your brand (this is much cheaper than marketing directly in China).

Kefeng says applying these basics is a good way to kick start any business relationship with China, alongside a solid understanding of what goods and products the Chinese want.

At the beginning of August, Kefeng and Jennifer returned from a business trip to China. There, they gained further useful insights into business prospects and trends for the future and will be developing those leads with Kiwi businesses during coming months.

If you want to discuss business opportunities in China or need advice on the areas outlined above you can contact Kefeng or Jennifer at Richiwi. Phone (04) 461 6928 or email [email protected]

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