A key success factor for doing business in China is having a local partner, someone who has a vested interest in your success. But how do you find them?
Here are 4 ways you can go about identifying and engaging someone in China who has your best interests at heart:
1. Go through the chambers of commerce in China. Either directly (via their own staff) or indirectly (via service providers they work with), the Australian and American chambers of commerce in China can help you identify an appropriate distributor, partner or agent.
2. Access your local chamber of commerce. The chamber of commerce in your home country has a program for helping local businesses break into China. They often have relationships with Chinese government agencies that help connect Chinese buyers with Western sellers, and vice versa.
3. Ask the government. The US Department of Commerce and the Australian Trade Commission provide services to assist American and Australian companies identify and vet prospective business partners in China.
4. Do it the Chinese way – access your OWN network. If you live in an American or Australian city of any size, there is a roughly 100% chance that you’ve got a Chinese friend, acquaintance or colleague. Introduce yourself, build a relationship, and ask for their help in finding a partner This is EXACTLY how a Chinese person would do it.
Two important caveats in following any of the steps outlined above.
First, don’t rush into it. You MUST take the time to talk to them, meet them if possible, understand who they are and where they come from and what their motivations are. That’s just how China works.
Second, once you’ve identified a partner, you should do everything in your power to build a personal relationship with them. Relationships figure much more prominently in Asian business culture than they do in the West. Building a relationship now will save you a LOT of grief later!