Check cultural difference in doing business in Taiwan
Establishing contacts and networks:
* It is unusual for Taiwan companies to buy anything from someone that they do not know.
* Business introductions are vital and ‘cold calling’ is not the appropriate way to start a business relationship in Taiwan.
* The ‘classmate network’ is a recurring theme of business in Taiwan as the contacts developed at school or university carry over into later careers.
* The quality of your agent or representative’s contacts will often be a more important selling point than the intrinsic marketability of your product.
* It is vital to spend time in Taiwan with your representative to clearly explain the product, effectively negotiate terms of business and develop networks in the market.
* Eating and drinking play a major role in doing business in Taiwan.
* Dinners with local representatives and customers help to develop networks and give the local agent ‘face’.
* Toasting at banquets, and after-dinner activities such as karaoke singing, are common business practices.
* When rice wine (shaoshing jiu) is served at a meal, the custom is for individuals to drink only after a toast is made. The glass should be held in the right hand, preferably supported by the left. Returning a toast is standard practice. Common toasts are ‘GanBei’ (empty your glass) and ‘sweiyi’ (as you please).
* Seating should be arranged so that the host’s party is alternated with the Chinese guests. Ensure that guests are invited to eat when each course is served.
* The guest of honour will be expected to make a move to leave the dining table first at the conclusion of the meal.
* While understanding Taiwan culture is important, do not lose sight of your country characteristics of doing business which differentiate you from other foreign competitors and your Chinese customers.
* Focus on transaction details as well as cultural factors.
* Chinese have a reputation for being tough negotiators so it is essential to be well-prepared.
* Research the company’s business, markets, financial status and reputation.
* Understand current economic conditions and government policies in Taiwan.
* Business cards – exchanging business cards is very important in Taiwan, so you should have a large supply at all times as several hundred may be required for a short trip.
* Correspondence – answer enquiries, proposals, correspondence and invitations as soon as possible, and at the very least, send an acknowledgment stating that an answer will follow shortly.
* Punctuality – while traffic conditions in Taipei can cause delays, Chinese place importance on punctuality and you should avoid arriving late at appointments.
* Gifts – the exchange of gifts is widely practiced in business in Taiwan and gift-giving usually occurs at the end of a meeting or during a meal in honour of your guests. Usually only small gifts are necessary but sometimes gifts offered by the Chinese are quite lavish – beware that a special favour may be expected in return.
Forms of address
Many Taiwanese have an English first name used with a Chinese family name, eg. Henry Wang – when this is the case, the family name is used last, as in Australia. Normally when a Chinese name is written, the family name comes first with the given name following, eg. Mr Tang Jie-Fu would be addressed as Mr Tang.