Knowledge | Doing business with China: Making the most of your visit

Business trips to China can be both exhausting and enjoyable, typically involving a range of meetings and a busy schedule. So, it's important to remain energetic and productive when travelling.

How can you optimise your time? Here are a few tips from Ting Zhang, founder and CEO of Crayfish.io.

Says Ting: “I usually visit multiple cities, even when on a short trip, and pack my schedule full of visits, meetings and calls.

“At the outset, I carefully plan my itinerary so that I don’t waste precious working hours on travelling.  Domestic flights operate till late at night, so I would usually finish a proper day’s meetings, then fly in the early evening to arrive at my next destination for the following day.

“I rarely fly in the morning on a working day because flights can be delayed (and they often are) which then disrupts the schedule.  The high-speed train network is more reliable for shorter distances and is now so extensive in China that it can cut the travel time by a large chunk. But do buy your train ticket in advance if you can, to avoid long queues at the station.”

Like most people, she says, food is a large part of any trip: “And for me, it is also the pleasurable part,” comments Ting.

“Mealtimes can be used not only to extend your business, but also to make it much more effective sometimes. Breakfast is a perfect way to catch up with old contacts, with whom I often discover new common interests.

“Chinese people do not eat cold sandwiches at their desks for lunch, so this can be an effective way to get to know new contacts better.  I usually invite people who I meet late morning to go on to lunch together, so that we can discuss action points in a more relaxed manner.  During my latest trip last month, several business leads were generated during lunch with our business partners.

“Dinner is a prime social occasion, so it is usually reserved for important relationships. For this reason, I would normally plan my dinners in advance.  In my last fortnight-long trip, I only had two evening meals when I ate on my own!  But I would not go for room service at the hotel – it is always amazing to stroll into a side street after a long day of meetings, and I love to discover tempting dishes in a local’s favourite.”

Ting says the etiquette for business dinners deserves more attention, so that will form the basis of a separate blog – watch this space.

She adds: “Remember: enjoy the food and company, but always use the occasion to enhance your relationship building. This is what will help you to realise your Chinese dreams, whether that is to be the number one player in the Chinese market, or to make China your largest source of customers.”

Finding help to plan your trip and organise your schedule is one of the ways Crayfish.io can assist people in business. It matches talented Chinese speaking professionals with Western businesses who need help in dealing with their Chinese partners and audiences, providing a source of qualified people to undertake projects and offer information, knowledge and cultural insight.