Many local Chinese consultants and partners offer overseas businesses a shortcut to success in the Mainland by offering to use their connections or “Guanxi” to help make things happen. Is it a good idea?
Overseas small and medium sized businesses should think of business in China like a race. Local Chinese managers like to sprint off the line and put a lot of distance between themselves and the pack in the early stages. But as many Western businessmen have found out, if you can stay in the race for a long time, you may ultimately outrun them. Local businesses often do not see the sense or appeal of long-distance races.
That analogy is helpful in explaining the issue of China connections. For newcomers who have read the airport newsstand manuals on China, there will be a strong impulse to take the “Guanxi Express” by hiring a consultant who promises lots of connections. Be aware that these are not your connections and may not ever be.
You must develop your own, which will take time. Therefore please keep in mind “Guanxi” is great to have – but you have to build it up yourself. Be careful when trying to buy or rent it.