China is now the fastest developing nation and already the second-largest economy in the world (after the US). This growth is creating a ‘rush’ of investment from multiple countries worldwide. As the global economic stage shifts, it’s likely that the Chinese language will play a major role in shaping its future, and the importance of Chinese for business will grow.
You don’t even necessarily need to be proficient in the Chinese language. Only by showing that you’ve been making efforts in learning the Chinese language and understanding Chinese people, you will definitely build up a better company reputation in the Chinese market and achieve a deeper relationship with ideal customers. However, if you put in the time needed to acquire Chinese language proficiency, you will stand out as someone well-positioned to reap benefits that your competition simply can’t have.
Here are some of the benefits of learning Chinese that you can expect to enjoy.
1. Learn Chinese and know your customers better
Buyers’ behavior is always a big part of designing products and services for your markets. You need to understand who is your customer and in what scenario they will likely buy your product. To help you know your customers, it will be easier if you know a bit about their languages and culture. Being able to predict Chinese buyers’ behavior using some key Chinese linguistic phrases is your secret to let you into the Chinese mindset, motivations, cultural traits, and behaviors.
Risk avoidance is an example of a cultural trait in China. It is referred to as “Feng Xian Gui Bi” (风险规避), which relates to the level of uncertainty or ambiguity a person will prefer. In China, people tend to have a higher level of risk avoidance, preferring safe options. For example, Chinese people will strongly prefer to buy products and services with a solid money-back guarantee if they are not satisfied with the product. Doing business in China, you need to take risk avoidance into consideration. Additionally, knowing some language and concepts in Chinese can help you accurately frame the perception of how your customers think, feel and behave. This helps you be prudent in evaluating your audience and positioning your product and services.
2. Learn Chinese to effortlessly navigate Chinese social media
Knowing the systems of the major Chinese social media and payment gateways helps you understand and navigate conversations around the Chinese social media business architecture.
Did you know that 71% of payments made last year in China were via mobile methods?
Chinese consumers spent US$5.5 trillion via mobile payment platforms in 2016 (China goes cashless with consumers spending $5.5 trillion via mobile payments). So you can see what is the hottest trend now in China. Just like in Western countries, social media is increasing rapidly in China.
For all the popular social media platforms you can find in the U.S., there is an exact equivalent in China, where social media platforms dominate the whole China market. Chinese consumers use Weibo (微博) instead of Twitter, Wechat (微信) instead of Facebook and WhatsApp, and numerous video platforms like Youku (优酷), iQIYI (爱奇艺), Letv (乐视), PPlive (聚力视频) instead of Youtube.
It is always challenging to study a new group of customers, but if you know their language, you can get customer insights more efficiently than your competitors. Imagine how convenient and effective it would be if you can easily handle these platforms in Chinese!
3. Learn Chinese language and cultivate your business acumen
Business nowadays is a worldwide business. Meanwhile, in China, the business culture is changing rapidly to adapt to world business. However, there is still a strong grasp on traditional paradigms, for example, the concepts of Communism, hierarchy in relationships, and ‘rules’ or traditions of business. Understanding these concepts in Chinese will not only give you respect as a business person in China but also help you acquire an authentic understanding of the way of business protocols and etiquette in Chinese business culture.
4. Learn Chinese to acquire the art of developing successful business relationships
In the same way, cooperation between businesses is better understood through unique Chinese concepts that are not easily expressed in English. Believe me, your business partner will be favorably appreciative if you say “wo hen gao xing lai dao zhong guo” (I’m glad to come to China) rather than simply say “ni hao” (hello). Chinese people are open, friendly, and intuitive. Your business partner will feel your sincerity in cooperation when they listen to your Chinese because they can see your efforts in understanding their language and culture!
Successful business partnerships are based on mutual understanding forged through both verbal and non-verbal communication protocols. By knowing each other’s language, you will be on a more equal playing field with your prospective business partner. Learning Chinese languages will propel you forwards in your quest to develop your Chinese business acumen, achieve greater impact, and lock in more favorable outcomes in your business negotiations.
Relationship – “GUANXI” (关系)
“Guanxi” (关系) is the word in the Chinese language to describe a relationship. In addition to saying ‘hello’, there are more important and in-depth business linguistic elements and etiquettes affecting the success of your relationship.
As an example, exchanging gifts in China is an important part of business etiquette! In any business visit, both parties are likely to prepare a gift for each other. In particular, where the meeting is between a Chinese business and an international business, Chinese business delegates always like to prepare some gifts with traditional Chinese meaning. And they would also be happy to receive some special gifts from you!
There is so much more to Chinese business protocol and etiquette.
For example, do you know what is the most appropriate distance between two persons in a business meeting? Do you know that in China, people sometimes conduct business during meals? Do you know the character of personal relationships in Chinese businesses? By building your capability in speaking the Chinese language alongside your savviness in Chinese business culture you will definitely put yourself ahead of your competition!
So, start learning the Chinese language in time to wow your new business partner, and develop a better “Guanxi” for your future success!
5. Learn Chinese and build empathy to strengthen your business relationships
Many foreign business owners in China feel frustrated by how businesses are administered in China. For both the foreign company representatives and Chinese business partners, miscommunications and misunderstandings lead to a breakdown of trust in the relationship. One example of a process that can cause frustration is the heavy requirement for paperwork for many business operations.
Administrative Paperwork-XING ZHENG WEN SHU” (行政文书)
The administrative burden of business in China can be high. For example, “Xu Ke Zheng” (许可证) permits are frequently required. This is part of the comprehensive approach to business by the government in China. Although feeling counter-intuitive at first, learning and fostering an appreciation for the way things are done will increase your trust in your Chinese business partners. For example, a foreign company running an event will be given a list of items that may and may not be included in a public address by the permit issuer. These rules should be respected as it is your Chinese event co-organizers who stake their reputation to acquire and vouch for your company permits.
You can see how your command of key aspects of Chinese languages is the secret to your success by improving your understanding of business protocols and building empathy to strengthen your relationships with your Chinese counterparts.
6. Learn Chinese and expand your business network
There are a lot of Chinese speakers in the world. According to Ethnologue, there are roughly 1.117 billion speakers of Mandarin Chinese, and of those, about 918 million are native speakers. Those stats make Mandarin Chinese the second most spoken language in the world as well as the language with the greatest number of native speakers. While most of these speakers reside in China, Chinese speakers have also formed communities around the globe. These are all potential contacts with whom you can personally do business—if only you can communicate with them.
With Chinese language skills, you will be able to navigate the vast global Chinese linguistic community to meet new business partners, clients, and customers. Learning Chinese for business can teach you how to speak Chinese with confidence in both professional and casual venues, setting both you and your business up with new networking opportunities that others can’t access.
This is not just about language but also about culture. Education in Chinese will allow you to socialize with Chinese speakers in more natural settings and establish cordial relations that can lead to future business proposals and collaborations. It will provide you with cross-cultural competencies that will impress your interlocutors and help you avoid committing a cultural faux pas that you might otherwise be unaware of. You can also demonstrate your seriousness and respect for your commerce by showing your commitment to learning how to communicate with potential business partners in their native tongue. Once you’ve established a solid rapport with a native Chinese speaker, you can benefit from their own business networks, capital, and know-how.
7. Learn Chinese and adapt to the global economy
One of the biggest reasons to learn Chinese is that you will be able to do better business with Chinese firms. It’s not news that China is a major player making waves in the global economy. China’s economy is the second-largest in the world according to nominal GDP, representing about 16.34% of the entire global economy. China was also the only major economy to get through the tumultuous year of 2020 with an actual increase in GDP.
As China’s economy evolves, more opportunities continue to avail themselves to businesspeople looking to grow their businesses. Some highlights from the US-China Business Council’s 2017 report Understanding the US-China Trade Relationship include the following:
- China’s middle-class consumers are growing rapidly and are expected to reach a population of 160 million by 2025
- China has been the third-largest market for US goods and services, purchasing $165 billion of goods and services from the US in 2015
- China continues to form an integral piece of the global supply chain and has allowed companies like Apple, GM, and Ford to compete at international levels
- Chinese companies are investing more in the US, putting $14.8 billion in the US in 2015. It’s no wonder why working with China looks so attractive.
If you learn Chinese for business, you can apply your language skills to take advantage of China’s central place in the global economy. With your capacity to interface and network with Chinese business people, you can facilitate plugging your business into China’s lucrative industries and markets.
New business connections are invaluable, there are some other perks to knowing Chinese, especially if you’re already doing—or would like to do—business in China.
You can run your business, hold meetings, and attend conferences with Chinese speakers while minimizing the involvement of intermediaries like translators. You can also directly access knowledge and information provided by Chinese language websites, newspapers, TV programs, and books, giving yourself advantageous access to critical resources to plan your next moves. Your company would also be well-positioned when localizing your products, services, and digital content to attract Chinese-speaking consumers and markets.
8. Learn Chinese and get your edge in international business with Chinese business giants
The Chinese language is an important tool for networking and remaining competitive in the global marketplace. For the savvy businessperson who already has some experience with Chinese under their belt, learning Chinese for business is a powerful next step.
Chinese business language can help you specialize your language skills and tailor them to your specific industry.
Focusing your studies specifically on Chinese for business will equip you with the specific cultural and linguistic vocabulary you need to speak intelligently about your business and interests with Chinese speakers. What you choose to do with this opportunity—whether in China or elsewhere around the globe—is ultimately left to you.
Let’s learn Chinese language and culture today!
At the current time and looking ahead, China has opened its giant domestic-facing market to the world and put on the table the best policies it has ever had. This means the time is ripe to kickstart your Chinese language learning and acquire new insights into Chinese markets and consumer behaviors. There is 300 million middle class now in China, and this number is predicted to grow to 500 to 600 million in the next 10 to 15 years (For those of you who are interested, check how Jack Ma, the executive chairman of Alibaba Group, explained the China opportunity at Gateway ’17). This is an indication of a huge demand for high-quality goods and services.
To impress your prospective Chinese business partners now is the time to start learning Chinese languages alongside formal Chinese business culture and etiquette! Understand and prepare yourself and your business to enter into China and build your business on the second-largest international stage. To seize this incredible opportunity in China and stand out among your competitors, you should start with learning the Chinese language and developing your knowledge and acumen of Chinese business culture.
Lock in your lessons with Pandanese to start your journey in the Chinese language and business culture now, or find out more about how to succeed in learning the Chinese language and Chinese business culture with Pandanese!