From a business perspective, there are a few things that I learned about the culture of China that I would not have immediately expected, as well as some things that really made the China portion of our project much easier. To begin, similar to most everywhere else in the world, much of the business that is conducted is extremely relational. This means that it would take multiple sit-downs with potential distributors and partners to really work out whether a deal could be done for the long-term. Why? Businesses in China want to ensure that there can be a long-standing relationship between the different companies, founded on a trust that cannot be built or determined through one or two meetings before moving ahead.
Additionally, the importance of relationships to setting up meetings and moving them along quickly was massive. I did not expect the fact that simply because the former co-worker of one of our teammates, who knew someone at a distributor, who worked with someone, who was in our industry, would actually establish the initial trust in us as people, and in the business that we were representing. However, that is exactly what it did. We had many meetings based on these loose relationships that were accelerated because someone in the line of people connecting us to the distributor or partner had vouched for one of our team members. This is in stark contrast to much of the work that I have done in other countries, and it really gave us a huge advantage in completing the project as a whole and setting up, what we believe, could be fantastic business opportunities for both our client and for the partners in China. We were able to make these connections and set up these meetings because of loose connections to contacts. However, I know that other teams struggled to make these connections because the business culture of the countries that they were working in were not the same as the one that we saw in China.