Trading gifts: Is Chinese New Year the time to enhance business relationships?

ChinaNY

Chinese New Year is so significant for our largest trading partner you will probably receive some warning that it is coming up – but in case you don’t know, it is celebrated from February 7-13 this year.

While there are all sorts of training programs on how to build cross-cultural expertise from afar while sitting at a desk here in Australia, my experience is that politeness and creating a personal connection trumps anything you can learn second hand. And acknowledging important festivals can provide you with a good start.

It should come as no surprise that a survey of Australian business knowledge, experience and confidence in Asia conducted by Ai Group and Asialink found that “understanding of local management culture” and broader “cultural understanding” were consistently rated highly by small, medium and large businesses as important factors in doing business with or in Asia.

If you send Christmas greetings or gifts to important customers and suppliers in Australia, it is entirely appropriate to do the same for your international business partners. If you trade with a number of countries you may find it useful to import the list of country holidays into your calendar so you’ll never miss another Thanksgiving, Eid al-Fitr or Golden Week.

At the very least, it might save some anxiety – you won’t be left wondering why no one is picking up the phone!

Chinese New Year is a time of getting together with families and friends, and also a time to re-connect relationships – especially those who have helped you in the past. As such, it’s appropriate to drop an associate an email, or send a text message or video message to wish them a prosperous Chinese New Year and let them know you are thinking of them at a time of year that is very important to them.

If you are worried about sending or saying the wrong thing, or if you’re looking for tips on the best corporate gifts to send for Chinese New Year, contact Ai Group’s Principal Advisor – China, Quentin Bai or leave a question below.

Do you intend to mark Chinese New Year this weekend? And have you used the occasion in the past to connect or reinforce relationships with business contacts in China? Share your thoughts or advice below.

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Louise McGrath
Having joined Ai Group in 2000, Louise has managed a number of trade-related projects including trade missions, business matching and the development of export-related training programs. Since 2009 she has led Ai Group's service delivery to our smaller associations, providing governance, policy and business development support, and is Executive Officer of the Australia Saudi Business Council and the Australian Russian Dialogue.

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