In China, sensitivity in all your relationships is an imperative. Your relationships and your network of contacts are of paramount importance. People with ‘connections’ are highly regarded. It’s not like the Networking concept in Britain, for example, where people expect to get business from networking contacts. In the Far East, it’s more like “I know a man who can”—and people’s ‘black books’ give them value. Guanxi is about having a network of contacts who can be prevailed upon to provide a favour or a service. And when a favour is done, there is a corresponding obligation.
As a foreigner, you will be unable to conduct business without guanxi. Guanxi will take years in the making, so you will need to take time to establish a few firm friends who will introduce you around, and put you in touch with the people of influence.
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