Building Business Relationships in China Takes Face-to-Face Contact

China is Tennessee’s third-largest trading partner, and state officials hope to strengthen that economic bond even further.

For that to happen, one Nashville attorney with clients in both places says personal, face-to-face contact is vital.

John Scannapieco specializes in international business law. He says Chinese executives tend to be cautious about establishing business relationships. That’s due in part to lax enforcement of that country’s business law. Contracts just don’t mean as much there. Instead, he says they rely heavily on the kind of trust that can only be established through personal contact and time. Scannapieco gives the example of a client who he visited last month, while on the state’s trade mission to China.

“We’ve been going for five years, six years, and only on this trip did I really feel like now we were “friends.” I think that has gone now to build this relationship so now he feels like he can send me his clients, his colleagues and there is that level of trust that we will take care of them.”

Twice now, Governor Phil Bredesen has taken trade delegations to China. The focus of this year’s trip was finding opportunities for Tennessee’s health care and green energy businesses.

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