How to Exchange Business Cards in China
Travelling to mainland China on business? Here are some tips to show respect and build rapport.
During Your First Meeting:
- Shake hands upon meeting. Chinese may nod or bow instead of shaking hands, although shaking hands has become increasingly more common.
- When introduced to a Chinese group, they may greet you with applause. Applaud back and smile.
- Senior persons begin greetings. Greet the oldest, most senior person before others.
- During group introductions, line up according to seniority with the senior person at the head of the line.
Chinese Names & Titles:
- Use family names and appropriate titles until specifically invited by your Chinese host or colleagues to use their given names.
- Address the Chinese by Mr., Mrs., Miss plus family name. Note: married women always retain their maiden name.
- Chinese are often addressed by their government or professional titles. For example, address Li Pang using his title: Mayor Li or Director Li.
- Chinese generally introduce their guests using their full titles and company names. You should do the same. Example: Doctor John Smith, CEO of American Data Corporation.
Reading Chinese Body Language:
- The Chinese dislike being touched by strangers. Do not touch, hug, lock arms, back slap or make any body contact.
- Clicking fingers or whistling is considered very rude.
- Never put your feet on a desk or a chair. Never gesture or pass an object with your feet.
- Blowing one's nose in a handkerchief and returning it to one's pocket is considered vulgar by the Chinese.
- To beckon a Chinese person, face the palm of your hand downward and move your fingers in a scratching motion. Never use your index finger to beckon anyone.
- Sucking air in quickly and loudly through lips and teeth expresses distress or surprise at a proposed request. Attempt to change your request, allowing the Chinese to save face.
- Chinese point with an open hand. Never point with your index finger.
Chinese Business Card Translation Etiquette:
- Chinese business cards are exchanged upon meeting.
- It is best to stand up when exchanging Chinese business cards.
- Before presenting your Asian business card, you should make sure that it is clean
- When presenting your Chinese business card, make sure that you hold it Chinese side up, facing your contact so that he/she can read it.
- Exchange Chinese business cards one-by-one, individual-to-individual, and use both hands where practical
- Chinese translated business cards are always exchanged and should be done so with two hands (as a sign of respect).
- Chinese business cards represent the person to whom you are being introduced, so it is polite to study the card for a while and then put it on the table next to you or in a business card case.
- Dual-sided Chinese business cards should be printed in English on one side and Chinese on the other.
- Make sure the Chinese side uses "Simplified" characters for mainland China, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. "Traditional" characters are used in Taiwan and exclusive areas of Hong Kong.
- Take ample stocks of Simplified Chinese business cards as almost everyone you meet will want to exchange one with you.
- To appear at a meeting without a translated Asian business card is equivelant to refusing to shake hands at a Western business meeting.
- Your business cards for China should include your title.
- NEVER distribute (or toss) your Asian business card in a manner similar to dealing playing cards.
- NEVER place a stack of your Chinese business cards on the table and offer others to take a card from the stack.
- If you are in a formal situation, it is proper to place the Simplified Chinese business card face up on the table in front of you and refer to it when necessary.
- DO NOT put the card into your back trouser pocket.
- DO NOT write comments on another person's business card, in their presence. You may write on your own name card to add information (e.g., email, home phone number, etc.).