Business etiquette in China is much different than in the United States. If you are going overseas to do business there, you must know about their customs and traditions to be successful. Most of it is very different than the Western ways we know.
When it comes to doing business in China, they do things much differently than we do in the United States. Let's start with greeting people as that is where it all begins in making that first impression.
It is customary to greet people with a slight bow or a small nod of the head. If the business people from China are being sensitive to the Westerners, they may greet you with a handshake. If they do this, be sure not to grip their hand too tightly. A firm handshake is offensive to them as they feel that it is too aggressive. Lighten up and give them a soft hand shake.
When addressing people, it is proper to address them by Mr. or Ms. and their first name. The surname or family name is used mostly in cases of familiarity. Wait until the relationship has progressed enough to use their family name.How do you know when the relationship has progressed enough? The best way to avoid anything awkward is to wait for them to address you that way first. They are not in a hurry to have a familiar relationship as we are accustomed to. Be patient and go at their speed.
Usually at a business meeting, business etiquette in China states that the most important person will enter the room first. Be aware of this and pay attention to the person that comes in first. They will be a key person to win over.
They do not jump right into business either. You should be prepared to have some non-business conversation prior to getting to the heart of the meeting. This is also very different from how business in the United States is done.
There are also some important rules of China business etiquette where business cards are concerned. If someone has just given you their business card, you should not put it in your pocket. It is a sign of disrespect to receive a card, not look at it, and place in your pocket. You should review both sides of the card and place it in front of you.
Whenever you are doing business in another country, it is a great idea to learn a few simple words and expression in their native tongue. It always makes a good impression when people show that they are doing their best to adapt to their way of doing things.
I hope these business tips will help you in China.