The Do’s and Don’ts for Establishing Guanxi

During everyday social interaction, we shall avoid any form of haughtiness.

Gold-Collar Executives

White-collar or gold-collar executives from overseas-funded enterprises often have such attitudes, and are proud to show their business cards as a director or president of a top 500 companies, and take on the attitude that “my title is higher, you should respect me,” which is harmful for your guanxi establishment. Indeed Chinese maintain a quite humble attitude regarding their position or status and to do otherwise is considered a very significant loss of face.

We should seek to extend offers of assistance as a show of loyalty and not seek to only use our guanxi when in need, which is considered taboo.

The following principles are important while guanxi is being established:

Genuine Interest

At the first meeting, we shall show our interest in others, listen to others carefully to obtain more information so as to impress others better.


A person who just wants to receive benefits from others and refuses to give is a selfish one, and will not develop good friendships. We shall deal with others on a reciprocal basis. As the popular Chinese saying says “You will have fragrance left in your hands after you present roses to others.” We shall help others on a voluntary basis and shall not refuse offers from others as this denies them guanxi-building opportunity. We can approach each other more closely by helping each other.

Mutual Reliance

Mutual reliance also includes mutual trust. Chinese character “人”(meaning “human beings”) consists of one left-falling stroke and one right-falling stroke that support each other, meaning that human beings shall rely on and support each other. We shall establish our reliable image keeping our word, and give prominence to our professional image as a source of value for others.


Sharing is the best way to build a good guanxi network. The more one shares, the more one will have. Others will appreciate you for the things you share, and you will be considered honest and hearty if you are ready to share. All people like to make friends with honest and hearty persons.


In conclusion, guanxi is a personal network. We need to put our efforts into establishing and maintaining guanxi as the accumulation of our fortune firstly depends on our abilities, then on our capital, and above all on integration of our resources and guanxi.

For foreigners, having a good guanxi network in China at least can bring the following advantages:

1. Accessing information easily as very little information can be accessed via public sources. However, with a good guanxi network, one can have better business opportunities, such as knowledge and insight into frequently changing policies;

2. Obtaining resources easily, such as tangible assets, including land, labor, raw materials and so on, and intangible assets such as import license, government’s permit and so on;

3. Bringing more profits, reputation and status. For instance, foreigners may encourage their employees to develop their guanxi network to obtain more business opportunities, as well as win good reputations.

Think of your guanxi network as a distributed bank account with many sub-accounts being held by many different individuals. Choose those individuals carefully and seek all opportunities to make “deposits.” Guanxi-building should be on the daily checklist of every executive. Select staff in part on the basis of their guanxi network, along with their skill and proclivity for guanxi-building. Make guanxi-building a priority of all staff members, and support and encourage them in their efforts – their guanxi network is, after all, part of your guanxi network.

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