Learn Chinese for business? Smart move.
With its wide range of industries, a rapidly growing market, and countless potential possibilities to explore, China is an obvious choice for any business hoping to go global.
Choosing China as a business market or partnering with a Chinese company opens up millions of opportunities, welcoming you to the world’s largest consumer market.
We’ve listed below five reasons you should learn Chinese for business & a guideline on how to start learning it right today!
Why you should learn Chinese for business
As a general rule of thumb, it is always good to pick up the local language where you want to do business. So learning Chinese will undoubtedly be an advantage if you wish to set up a business in China or with Chinese people.
Here are five reasons why you should learn Chinese for business:
Seize every opportunity
Approximately only 1% of the Chinese population can converse in English, according to Wikipedia. That means foreigners (including you) will encounter endless problems in daily communication unless you have a translator. Not only does a translator cost you tons of money, but it’s not guaranteed they’ll be present all the time. And remember, business opportunities don’t make an appointment, and you need to be ready when they arrive.
In other words, learning Chinese enables you to be assertive in every situation, opening doors for new opportunities & minimizing unnecessary obstacles.
Know your clients
You can only provide the best product/service when you know exactly what your customers want. One simple way to read your customers’ buying behaviors and mindset is through their language. Learning Chinese is a stepping stone to explore and understand a rich & ancient culture, business etiquettes, and consumption trends. This allows you to be more strategic in assessing your target market and positioning your products and services.
Enhance conversational clarity
As mentioned previously, not many people in China can speak English, so you would likely need a translator. In fact, it’s necessary. But translating sometimes does change the original meaning, leading to unfortunate misunderstandings. Learning the local language allows you to have transparent communications and avoid jargon, cultural biases, and misinterpretation.
Deepen ties with your clients
You need to know and understand guanxi (关系) – a Chinese word referring to personal connections or relationships. Having good, bad, or no guanxi directly affects your business results. If your guanxi is good, it implies that your customers/partners trust you and are likely to do business with you. In contrast, if you don’t have any guanxi – or have bad guanxi with your clients, it would be harder to gather crucial information, close a deal, or gain approval.
So, how to have good guanxi?
Frankly, it’s a whole journey with a lot of effort to be made. However, knowing how to speak Chinese can get you somewhere. It shows your respect and interest with your clients, their language, and culture, giving a sense of commitment to enhancing further business relations.
You can use Chinese social media
No one can deny the benefits of social media for business these days. It’s the fastest and easiest way to engage with your customers. But, as you may know, people in mainland China aren’t allowed to use popular social platforms like the rest of the world. They use Weibo (微博) instead of Twitter, Wechat (微信) instead of Facebook, and Youku (优酷) instead of Youtube. Inevitably, to raise customers’ awareness and start your social media marketing campaigns, your business would need to be on those specific platforms. And for that, Chinese would be a necessity.
Not to mention, if you want to sell products on China’s biggest online shopping sites like Taobao or Tmall, knowing Chinese is well worth the effort as there’s no support for English-speaking users. Even with Google Translate, you’d quickly feel lost and alone!
How to learn Chinese for business?
Below are three simple steps to start learning Chinese for your business needs :
- Start with the basics
Yes, you always start with the basics first. You can’t just jump right into business Chinese without any foundational knowledge. When you just learn conversational sentences by heart, you don’t understand the reasons and logic behind the grammatical structure or word choices. This isn’t beneficial in the long run, so don’t take the easy option.
It goes without saying that learning pinyin (romanized spelling) should be your first step. With pinyin, you will be able to pronounce every Chinese word and identify them when listening. Then, you should learn the tones and basic grammatical structures (which may not be as hard as you think!).
You can always take a look at Pandanese’s learning tips for beginners:
- Chinese For Beginners: Should I Learn Mandarin Or Cantonese?
- A Beginner’s Guide to Chinese Pronunciation
- Everything To Know About Learning Chinese Hanzi Characters
- Focus on Chinese business vocabulary
Here is the difference between general Chinese and business Chinese. Basically, business Chinese uses more formal and technical vocabulary to show formality, politeness, and professionalism. The way you converse with your business partner or a potential customer plays a vital role in the outcome. So after you’re well-equipped with the basics, pay special attention to studying Chinese vocabulary for business. It would be best to start learning the basics of Chinese vocabulary first – that means the smaller elements making up a word: radicals, components, and characters.
Pandanese can help you do just that. Pandanese is a web-based learning application using proven memory hacks to help learners study Chinese quicker and more effectively. You will learn the most basic elements first and see how they form a word which ensures you understand & memorize Chinese vocabulary better!
- Practice! Practice! And more practice!
Practice makes perfect. Test your Chinese level every day on your own. You can find a Chinese news channel to watch, a business or finance blog to absorb and learn the language, or even a Youtube channel in Chinese about your specific industry. The most important thing is to watch/read/listen every single day! Immersing yourself in Business Chinese will definitely pay off in the long run.
Also, speak as much as you can with native speakers. It helps you speak more naturally & improve your language skills and gives you the chance to know more about Chinese culture.
There’s a reason why many people consider Chinese the most difficult language in the world to learn. That being said, many students have mastered the language with nothing more than constant effort and the right learning method.
We hope this article will help you build a strategic study plan for your Business Chinese!