Experts say two to 30 seconds is all you need to size up new people.

Indeed, a good first impression can work wonders, and the picture you present to your Chinese buyer when you first meet them can make or break your guanxi (relationship) with them.
We offer six pointers to help you make an outstanding – and lasting – first impression.
  • Dress for success: While we should never judge a book by its cover, appearance does count when meeting Chinese. So, dress smart and appropriately to exude an image of reliability, competence, and confidence – this means no loud colours, flashy or gaudy accessories, heavy makeup, and overly revealing or casual attire.
  • Shake hands upon meeting: Besides preferring a firm handshake, some Chinese tend to shake with both hands as an expression of warmth. Occasionally, you may also meet Chinese who prefer to give a slight bow and nod instead of a handshake, however, there is no need for you to bow deeply from the waist in response – a light nod and a warm smile from you would suffice.
  • Learn basic Chinese greetings: Try saying “Nǐ hÇŽo!” (你好) as you shake their hands – that means “Hello there!” and is a great way to break the ice. Besides that, efforts in learning their language to better communicate with them will not only convey your sincerity and respect for their culture, but also put them more at ease.
  • Exchange business cards properly: There’s more to Chinese business card etiquette than just handing out your card. Learn all 10 do’s and don’ts when it comes to presenting your business card to a Chinese buyer here.
  • Address them politely: In general, it’s best to address your Chinese clients by their correct titles (Mr. / Mrs. / Ms. / Madam / job titles) and family name (surname). For example, if the Chinese buyer’s name is Jiang Chenghu, you should address him as ‘Mr. Jiang’ until he invites you to use his given name ‘Chenghu’. If he is a doctor or a director, then he should be addressed as Dr. Jiang or Director Jiang.
  • Understand Chinese body language: Chinese are more conservative with strangers, so avoid excessive body contact such as hugging, cheek kissing, backslapping or locking arms with them upon your initial meeting. Avoid slouching or keeping your hands in your pocket too, as it indicates a lack of confidence.
With the six tips shared above, we hope you nail your first meeting with your Chinese buyers. After all, you only have one chance to make a first impression – make it count.