6 Out-of-the-Box Tips for Expanding Your Network in China

6 Out-of-the-Box Tips for Expanding Your Network in China
Dec 23, 2020 By Cian Dineen , eChinacities.com

A key part to having a successful career in China is building up a large network of contacts, otherwise known as having guanxi. But there’s more you can be doing to get guanxi beside attending networking events. From job recruiters and business owners, to former colleagues and even just friends in the know, your next opportunity could come from anywhere. Here are some out-of-the-box tips to help you expand your network in China to one that is large, varied and potentially valuable.

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1. Sign Up to Job Sites and Online Professional Communities

Even if you’re not looking for a job right now, it’s important to have a professional presence online. Make sure you set up a profile on online professional communities and keep your CV up to date with job listing websites.

They say the worst time to look for a job is when you’re out of work, but if you're already on all the right platforms, that’s half the battle won. Recruiters will be able to find you and you'll probably already know where to look for the kind of jobs you’re interested in.

Even if you’re happy in your current position, you may come across a potential for promotion in another company or an exciting career change. Checking what salaries are being offered for your role at other companies may also reveal that you’re being underpaid and need to renegotiate your contract.

2. Make an Effort to Learn the Language 

While it’s certainly possible to build up a network in China without speaking Chinese, those with decent Mandarin skills have a clear advantage. When you consider that the vast majority of Chinese still don’t speak English and that most expats don’t speak Chinese, any foreigner who speaks the language will naturally be able to explore opportunities their peer’s cannot.

Expats that speak Chinese will be able to browse local job listings and also expand their network to include more locals. Chinese proficiency can unlock a whole new world of networks for anyone willing to put in the time and effort to learn.

3. Get Involved With Sports and Social Clubs

Many of us do the vast majority of our networking over drinks. While you can definitely make a lot of contacts on a night out in China, the issue with these encounters is that they tend to be fleeting and shallow. After all, you probably wouldn’t remember someone you only met for five minutes in a loud bar.

So instead of trying to expand your network when you’re out on the weekends, think about getting involved in sports, social and arts clubs instead. You’re naturally going to create lasting and meaningful friendships if you play football, week in, week out, with the same team or if you join a painting class with likeminded individuals. It’s through this kind of deeper networking that others are much more likely to think of you and recommend you for an opportunity.

4. Label WeChat Contacts When You Add Them 

Once you start to grow a large network, you may find one of the challenges is keeping track of everyone and what it is they do. Sometimes you add someone to WeChat in March, but when you try to find their contact in September you can’t remember who they were. This can get especially difficult when you have several contacts whose names are written entirely in Chinese characters.

A straightforward solution is to start to label all your WeChat contacts as soon as you add them. Simply click their profile picture and edit their display name. There’s no need to be super detailed — just include the name of the company they work for, the industry they’re in, or perhaps the product they’re involved with. It may seem pedantic, but it will save having to remember who everyone is, which can be especially hard when you have hundreds of contacts.

5. Dont Forget to Pay it Forward

When you’ve got yourself a large network, you may find you get approached with offers that aren’t in your ballpark or don’t pay as well as you’d like. Don’t dismiss these out of hand, as they still represent an opportunity to strengthen your network further.

There may be someone in your friend circle who’s interested. Share job offers with those in your network, whether it’s by directly recommending someone you know or by posting the opportunities you’re not interested in on social media. If someone you know gets a job from your tip, they’ll hopefully remember you when they find themselves in a similar situation.

Also, make yourself available to give advice and offer feedback when there are people in your network looking for work. From offering to spellcheck a CV, to forwarding on opportunities, to giving some insider info on a company you’re familiar with, these small acts of kindness tend to come back around.

6. Dont Become Completely China-Centric

While building up a large network in China can lead to many great opportunities, it’s important to remember that there’s a whole wide world out there. Foreigners can certainly forge fantastic careers in this country, but if this year has taught us anything, it’s that a quick chain of events may lead to you having to explore opportunities outside of the Middle Kingdom.

With that in mind, I recommend that you try to avoid nurturing an entirely China-centric network. At the very least, keep in touch with those back home, including family and friends, but also old classmates, teachers and former colleagues. You don’t want to fall out of touch and then have to start from scratch later.

Ideally, you want to continue to developing your network outside of China, even when you’re here. You can establish connections from all over the world on professional community websites, pick up freelance work with companies outside China, and make an effort to network with other professionals when you’re back home during the holidays. You may never end up turning to these people, but knowing that you’re not completely dependent on China will give you some peace of mind if you do ever end up leaving.

Any other networking tips for expats in China? Drop them in the comments box below.

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Yeah out of the box

Dec 25, 2020 12:32 Report Abuse


If you are a foreigner, people on the street are looking for your WeChat, even though they have never met you, they do not know the words of English...

Dec 24, 2020 18:53 Report Abuse


just tell any Chinese person you meet that you will whore yourself out to ANYONE doing ANYTHING. Say that you have no moral compass, zero standards, you would sell your entire family and friends out in a moment, and NOTHING is too suspect for you to do for a buck. THAT will increase your network VERY quickly. ;o)

Dec 24, 2020 14:48 Report Abuse


out of the box?

Dec 24, 2020 09:31 Report Abuse