Socializing can be a challenge anywhere, but it can be especially stressful in a Chinese business setting!
It’s evident that there’s an ongoing increase in the number of international businesses and entrepreneurs looking to work with Chinese corporations. What’s more, there are numerous professionals also seeking work in China.
So, whether you want to be more involved and engaged in a business conversation, or to show your sincerity and enthusiasm in working with Chinese people, it’s essential to know business conversational phrases.
We have selected 12 phrases to help you make the most of any kind of Chinese business social situations you may find yourself in.
(Hěn gāo xìng néng gēn nín huì miàn!)
Very happy to meet you!
With the use of 您(nín), instead of 你(nǐ) as the word ‘you’, this shows deeper respect for the person you are addressing. This phrase is similar to 很高兴能跟您见面 (hěn gāo xìng néng gēn nín jiàn miàn), however, 会面(huì miàn) has a more formal sounding than 见面(jiàn miàn). While both mean meet, 会面(huì miàn) is more suitable for a business event.
(Zěn me chēng hū?)
How should I address you?
In a business social environment, you will meet new people for the first time, and will want to ask them their names. 称呼(chēng hū) suggests ‘to address’, so the expression, compared to the casual way你叫什么名字(nǐ jiào shén me míng zì – what’s your name?), gives a more appropriate and polite impression.
(Xìng huì, xìng huì!)
Very pleased to meet you!
This is a very polite saying. 幸会(xìng huì) means ‘meet’, and it implies one’s deep honor to be able to meet another person. Usually, 幸会(xìng huì) is said twice, which doubles up the sense of honor and pleasure.
(Zhè shì wǒ de míng piàn, yǐ hòu qǐng duō duō guān zhào!)
This is my business card, I’d like to have your guidance in future.
After getting to know each other, the next thing to do is to exchange business cards, right? 多(duō) means ‘much’, and关照(guān zhào) literally means ‘to look after’; therefore以后请多多关照(yǐ hòu qǐng duō duō guān zhào) is an extremely humble way to express your great willingness to learn from the opposite party and take their guidance.
(nín yí lù shang hái shùn lì ma？
Did you have a smooth journey coming here?
To open up a new conversation, you might like to start with something safe. 一路上(yí lù shang) means to be ‘on the way’, and 顺利(shùn lì) refers to being ‘smooth’. Asking您一路上还顺利吗(nín yí lù shang hái shùn lì ma) emphasizes that you are concerned for their having a pleasant trip, which is an especially nice phrase to use within business environments.
(fēi cháng gǎn xiè nín men de zhāo dài, nín men ān pái dé tài zhōu dào le!)
I’m very grateful for your warm reception, your arrangement is so thoughtful!
In the event of attending a business social activity, you may want so show your appreciation towards the host’s preparation, and compliment their effort. 感谢(gǎn xiè) means ‘thankful’, while 周到(zhōu dào) is often used to describe an event thoughtfully organized.
(nín men gāng cái yǐ jīng chī guò fàn le ma？)
Have you already eaten?
In this instance, you’re probably attending a business meeting. Before the formal meeting starts, there’s always a period of chit-chat. A common, light-hearted topic that you can talk about is eating! Eating and drinking are highly important features of Chinese culture, so asking您们刚才已经吃过饭了吗(nín men gāng cái yǐ jīng chī guò fàn le ma)？ is a standard and polite way to greet people, and can never go wrong!
(Zhè lǐ wù shì wǒ men de yì diǎnr xīn yì, xī wàng guì gōng sī xǐ huān。)
This little gift is a token of our regard, hope you will like it.
In Chinese culture, giving gifts to your business partners or clients is often a way to show your respect, gratitude, and hospitality. This form of reciprocity within business settings is considered a traditional way to build and maintain relationships.
As such, by the end of the meeting, you can give out your gift and express your kind intentions for doing so. 心意(xīn yì) refers to ‘kind intention’, and贵公司(guì gōng sī) means ‘your company’, but in a highly respectable way.
(Hěn gāo xìng néng yǒu jī huì hé nín men hé zuò。)
Very pleased to have the opportunity to cooperate with you.
This phrase is particularly suitable when doing business with Chinese people. After having reached a business deal, you can finally express your pleasure towards this valued opportunity. 机会(jī huì) means ‘opportunity’, and 合作(hé zuò) means ‘cooperate or cooperation’.
(Xī wàng wǒ men hé zuò yú kuài！)
Hope our cooperation will be happy!
Alternatively, you can also say you’re looking forward to a having a happy time cooperating with each other! 愉快means ‘happy’.
When saying希望我们合作愉快(xī wàng wǒ men hé zuò yú kuài), it’s usual for both parties to shake hands as an act of showing encouragement.
(Wǒ men bǎo chí lián xì！)
Keep in touch!
Now that the business event is over, you want to express that you would like to keep in touch in the future. Maintaining good relationships is vital to doing business in China. 保持(bǎo chí) means ‘to maintain’, and 联系(lián xì) means ‘to contact’. So it is saying that you will maintain contact.
(Yǐ hòu yǒu shén me wèn tí, kě yǐ suí shí hé wǒ lián xì。)
If there’s any question (you may have) afterward, contact me anytime.
Other than saying ‘keep in touch’, you can also show extra courtesy by welcoming any possible questions the other person may have in the future. This is perceived as a standard and decent way to end a formal conversation. 问题(wèn tí) means ‘questions or problems’, and 随时(suí shí) means ‘anytime’.
If you are going to be doing business in China, knowing the formal and polite things to say in a business setting will help you in developing positive business relationships. These 12 business phrases are just the start, but it’s a very good start toward building up good communication with those you will be doing business with. Try them out, and you’ll see just how far they can take you with your professional work.