So, you’re heading off on a Mission to China. With the thorough arrangements of the organising body, it should be smooth sailing and will lead to plenty of leads and surely a deal with some Chinese businesses, right?
Wrong! If you are planning to go on an organised Mission, you better read on, so you can capitalise on the opportunity which may only come around once. A China mission could be your ticket to a successful future. But you need to get it right.
Here at Chin we’ve worked on numerous trade missions over the years: federal, state and local governments have led them. We’ve worked tirelessly to produce mission materials and profiles and provided interpreters for the activities.
We put in a huge amount of time to carefully translate individual profiles, minister messages and promotional material about the state/country, as well as Chinese business cards to create the right impression in China. We’ve participated in briefings and we talk with delegates to help ensure that their trade mission is successful.
So, whether you are part of a government mission or whether you are doing your own thing, this information will help you get it right.
- As one of a number of participating businesses, don’t expect the organiser to know about your business and objectives – you must spell out your requirements early in order to assist organisers to arrange suitable meetings and networking.
- Participate in briefings, meet your fellow delegates and share information – talk to others who’ve been on previous missions and get some pointers and maybe even introductions.
- Business card in top shape: we’ve seen a few doozies already – cards designed for Hong Kong (wrong); cards with no Chinese name (what will people call you); cards with funny fonts (wrong); cards with weird translations of business names (sanitary pads!) and titles (Office Manager not CEO), and so on. Make sure your Chinese Language card is your best selling tool AND take heaps of them – hundreds not dozens.
- Research the organisations you may meet with; even tell the organisers who you’d like to meet and do your homework.
- Hone your networking skills; don’t be shy – step up with a smile, approach Chinese attendees, exchange your business cards, look engaged and share some small talk; maybe the communication won’t be easy at first (grab an interpreter if you can), and the people you meet might not be in your area, but they might introduce you to someone who is. Networking is vital
- Two hands – present your cards (and anything else) with two hands and receive in the same way – polite and respectful.
- Get your materials translated into good Chinese. You need to be confident in the message and not waste such an opportunity with either no translation or poor Chinese (can you judge?) By this we include an attractive brochure about your product or service; a presentation of its features and benefits; a website or WeChat public account (Chinese will most likely check you out and will only bother if the information is in Chinese); visualise your offering on an iPad, for example – a picture tells a thousand words and while the words are helpful, how good would something like this be in a networking or speed business matching session where you could show off what you are on about visually!
- Mission Accomplished – NO, not until you get back home and start to follow up on the contacts made. Remember, no contact is wasted; as with a number of clients we’ve worked with over the years you’ll start off with a larger number of leads – get to know them and hone your list of potential business partners – the ones you don’t match up with can still be a great source of referrals. And don’t forget to keep in touch and make another visit soon.
The value of participation in a business mission should not be underestimated. Missions led by senior figures put you into an elite space in China. Not only that, higher level businesspeople – decision makers – will turn out to events, so raise your profile and place in the pecking order, but as mentioned above make sure you have the right tools and attitude to make it a mission accomplished.