To form Guanxi is to gain trust in and trust from others, and is the basis for constructive interaction. For individuals, having good guanxi not only helps one learn advantages, culture and social norms from others, but also helps one to adapt to the society better.
To emphasize the importance of guanxi in China consider the following statistics collected in a research project on guanxi conducted by a famous university in China:
• More than 85% of persons with good guanxi can succeed and feel happy;
• 85% of factors leading to success depend on guanxi while 15% originates from knowledge, technique, experience and so on;
• In 4000 employees unemployed in a region, 90% have poor guanxi, and only 10% are disqualified on technical or other skills basis;
• Graduates with good guanxi earn 15% higher salaries than excellent students, and 33% more than average students.
The fact that such a study was commissioned in the first place should be telling enough of the important role guanxi plays in Chinese society.
People in China often say that first-class persons are good at collecting guanxi; second-class persons like to accumulate properties; while the third-class ones attach great importance to saving money. Here, collecting guanxi means making a lot of friends, and when in need, having friends to help. Guanxi is value-added. Some also say that you may know your value by averaging the revenue of three of your good friends, from which we can see that guanxi has similar effect to money.
Guanxi focuses on the interpersonal relationship network formed during social interaction, such as the relationships formed in work and study, and good guanxi also needs your efforts. For enterprises, guanxi is the origin of business opportunities and is the carrier for transferring value. It plays an important role in the survival and development of an enterprise.
Guanxi is potential fortune in China. Without strong guanxi in China, one can do little well or at least can do little optimally. A person with wide guanxi is considered a very influential person with a strong background (referring now to “mianzi”, covered in the next section Part 4 – Mianzi). Without referral or acquaintances, one will have great trouble in meeting senior management or principals. The more guanxi one has, the more “energy stores” he or she will have in reserve. With good guanxi one may beautifully solve some problem just via a telephone call that others cannot solve. Conversely one may not be able to solve a problem regardless of the direct effort put in, while others with good guanxi may succeed easily with hardly more than a greeting.
What is the reason for this? Guanxi is the only magic tool. A person having wide guanxi is considered to have great guanxi “resources”. These guanxi resources may help one to learn useful information more quickly, and are transformed into promotion opportunities or other good fortune; at critical times, guanxi resources even may help one escape from dire risks.
The ability to establish guanxi may be measured by whether one is good at dealing with those one dislikes and can do well in an environment one doesn’t like.