Read this before you travel to China: Business Cards – 10 Tips

The Chinese business culture is different from many other countries. For companies to communicate well with Chinese business relationships, they must have knowledge of the Chinese culture of courtesy. In this article, we discuss the ritual of exchanging business cards during business meetings in China and come up with 10 tips on how this should be done.

1. Exchanging business cards is an important ritual in all business meetings in China. It is therefore important that you bring enough business cards.

2.Use Chinese on the business card (名片 míng piàn). One should have Chinese on one side and English on the other. By using Chinese on the card, you show that you are willing to adapt to the local culture and want to cooperate.

3.When choosing Chinese characters in translating names into Chinese, it is important to remember that the characters you choose have different meanings and mean a lot to the end result. One should therefore get help from someone with good knowledge of the Chinese language to translate names and other information on the business card into Chinese.

4. When handing over the card, one should politely say ‘hello’: “Nín hǎo” 您好. You can do this regardless of whether you can speak a lot of Chinese or not. If you first say Nín hǎo 您好 then you will get the same Nín hǎo 您好 back as an answer. Chinese do not expect us to speak Chinese, but when we try simple phrases, this gives a good first impression and is something that is appreciated.

5. Give and receive cards with both hands, and hold them between your index finger and thumb in the corners.

6. When giving away the card, the text should be in the right direction for the person receiving the card.

7. It is important to remember that in Chinese business culture, the business card culture, the business card represents the one from whom one obtains it. One should therefore receive the card in a polite manner, and treat it with care. It is considered rude to write directly on the card.

8. Do not put the card directly in your pocket. You should spend time looking at the card, to show respect for the person you are talking to. The message you want to communicate is: “I value you, and want to get to know you better.”

9. If you have lost a business card, it will be considered rude to say it directly and ask to get a new business card. If you do, this can easily be interpreted as: “I do not care so much about you as a business relationship, therefore I did not treat your card with care.” This will be noticed in a negative sense. If you need a new card, I rather recommend that you say that you want a new card that you want to pass on to another business partner. In this way one avoids appearing rude.

10. Have a business card with communication methods that can be used in China, such as a QR code / number so that others can add you as a contact in WeChat or QQ.

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