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Chinese Customs: Meeting People

Learn the Etiquette for Meeting and Greeting People

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Chinese Etiquette: Meeting New People

U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Chinese President Hu Jintao as first lady Michelle Obama looks on at the White House Jan. 19, 2011. Shaking hands is becoming a popular way to greet new people in China.

Alex Wong / Getty Images

When it comes to making friends or meeting new clients, knowing the proper Chinese customs will help you make the best first impression possible.

Tips for Meeting People:

1. Learning a little Chinese goes a long way. While it’s not necessary to master Chinese, learning to say a few phrases will help break the ice.

2. While the Chinese prefer to bow at the waist for formal ceremonies and special events, a handshake and hello are becoming more and more popular. Always stand when being introduced and remain standing until introductions have been completed. You are expected to shake hands with everyone even if the delegation is rather large.

3. Immediately upon introduction, present your name card. Use two hands to present the business card to the person you are meeting. You name should be facing the person you are greeting. Most Chinese and foreigners have bilingual business cards with Chinese on one side and English on the other. You should present the side of your card that is in the person’s native language.

Be sure to give everyone in the room your business card so be sure to have plenty of hand at all times.

4. Once you receive your new acquaintance’s business card, do not write on it or shove it in your pocket. Take a minute to read it and look it over. This is a sign of respect. If you are seated at a table, place the name card in front of you on the table. If you are standing and will remain standing, you may place the card in a card holder or discreetly in a breast or jacket pocket.

5. Remember that Chinese names are in reverse order of English names. The last name appears first. Until you become close business partners, address a person by their full name rather than their first name, by their title (for example, Managing Director Wang), or Mr./Ms. followed by the person’s surname.

Learn more about Chinese Etiquette.

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