Secret to Business Networking in Asia

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If you want to start a business relationship with someone in the U.S., what would you do? In addition to bragging about your strengths, you’d probably also tell them that you are connected to important people and companies and have a solid social network.

You want to emphasize other things in Asia though.

For East Asia (China, Japan, Korea):

  • Emphasize how you are connected to their social network, such as by identifying common friends, common clients, common partners, and so on. Focus on shared relationships rather than prestigious connections. For example, a relationship with Microsoft won’t be of that much help unless the company you want to partner with also has relations with Microsoft. Instead, mentioning that you have worked with Redhat when the other company has also worked with Redhat would you help gain their trust.

  • Try to develop an emotional bond between you and the person whom you want to partner with. Research shows that convincing East Asians about your strengths and abilities will not be enough – you need to make them trust you intuitively.

For South Asia (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan):

  • South Asian cultures emphasize groups. As soon as a South Asian runs into another South Asian, they have a strong urge to find out about which part of the country the other person came from; what is their religion; what is their language, caste, and so on.

  • Although your language and your religion are unlikely to match with your South Asian counterpart’s, emphasize any other common group membership that you can think of, like common universities, companies, clubs, organizations, associations, etc. that you and the person with whom you’re doing business with are or were a part of. It will increase the other party’s trust in you.

For North America:

  • In the U.S., emphasize your inner strengths – your competence, creativity, work ethics, and values. Instead of trying to identify common network connections or overlapping group memberships, point out which high status companies and individuals you have dealt with. Its OK if the other party has never worked with these high status entities – your status will increase because of your association with other high status people in the eyes of Americans. It is all about standing out in the crowd in North America.

We are the experts in doing business in Asia. With vast knowledge of meaningful cultural insights like these, we can help you smoothly expand your business in new territories.


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