Before meetings, it’s better to learn some common Chinese expressions like hello, thank you, goodbye as well as some knowledge of Chinese culture, history and geography. If you speak Chinese, they will really appreciate your efforts and take your initiative of doing business in China more seriously than if you do not speak any Mandarin. When meeting with government,learning the names of the high officials is very important. Politics should always be avoided. Never lead the conversation to some sensitive areas such as Tibet, Xinjiang and Taiwan. The Chinese are very proud of their long and glorious history, it can be a very good beginning to build a nice relation.
It’s common for Chinese to ask some private questions such as your age, salary, marital status. If you don’t want to reveal that information, remain polite and give an unspecific answer with a pleasant smile. But you can always ask some general questions like “How long have you’ve been working here?” to show your care and have an interest toward the people you are meeting with.
Small talk is welcomed in the beginning, the middle and the end of a meeting. In China, good personal connections are very helpful to business. Showing your respect and giving some compliments can be a good way of doing business. During the meeting, a confident tone is very agreeable. Make sure that you don’t speak too fast and leave enough time for people to digest what you have been saying. Also, a slow tone somehow implies your position in the company. No matter if you can speak Chinese or not, bring an interpreter with you always, not only to show your respect for the meeting but also your status in your company.
A firm handshake at the beginning and the end of the meeting is necessary. Avoid too much body contact with the Chinese, especially females.