Communication in China has changed into a completely different ball game, most Western visitors fail to get. Especially the blurring line between personal and business communication is key to understand, says business analyst Shaun Rein at Knowledge CKGSB. For example for recruiting.
“Younger Chinese especially are more connected online, especially through mobile phones, than their western counterparts. The result is younger Chinese spend more time networking in general and networking to find jobs via mobile devices than Americans and Europeans,” says Shaun Rein, author of the upcoming book The War for China’s Wallet and managing director of the China Market Research Group (CMR).
In some lines of work, this is already having consequences. Take recruitment: for Jeida Boussenina, recruitment manager for INS Global Consulting in Shanghai, recruiting still includes the occasional trade show visit, but these days, most of her work involves various kinds of online chatting. “I don’t even call people anymore,” she says.
In her daily search, Boussenina visits a number of sites, including LinkedIn, Chitu (Red Rabbit), 51job, Liepin, and most of all, WeChat, 900-pound gorilla of Chinese social networks. WeChat is one of the world’s largest social media platforms. Over 938 million people belong to WeChat, 90% of whom are Chinese. Founded in 2010 by Tencent, the Chinese tech giant, WeChat has a significance…
“Chinese people are really suspicious, really protective of their privacy…. In China, you build trust before doing any business with Chinese people. If they don’t trust you, they don’t do business with you. If they don’t like you, they don’t do business with you,” she explains.
Boussenina’s approach isn’t unusual, according to Rein. “This shift to online has completely changed how companies need to recruit – they need to spend a larger proportion of recruiting budgets online. It has also impacted the executive search community – they have had to adopt online
networking and reach out to candidates,” he says.
Another aspect of Chinese culture that is being reflected online is a preference for mixing business with pleasure. “WeChat is a show window of both personal and professional life for many people,” says Ma Lin, a Chinese translator now living in Germany.
“The lines are definitely blurred in China between business and personal when it comes to social media and networking,” agrees Rein. Even WeChat was originally just a platform that made it easier for friends to communicate but later evolved to the point where it is also a payment channel and a tool for business communication. “In China, you can never just be all pleasure or all work – everything is intermingled,” he adds.
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