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Top 7 ways to fast track your career in China

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Just starting out in China and wondering how to be seriously considered as an applicant and respected by local companies? This article is for you.

1. Develop a skill that is greatly needed in China

Show China that, as a foreigner, you can do more than teach English. China needs skilled workers, particularly in technical areas such as IT, construction, pharmaceutical R&D, engineering, and geology (oil exploration).

2. Learn Chinese

The only way you'll ever get far in China is to learn the language and understand how to do business like a Chinese person. Tip: learn idioms & slang and perfect your pronunciation to especially "wow" your audience.

3. Don't stop studying

Beyond language and culture, learn China's history and geography. The more you become a Sino-expert, the more opportunities you will have. Know current movie stars or singers to impress the younger crowd and icons or business leaders to impress the older generation. Learn how to play Mahjong and a few kung fu or tai chi moves.

4. Make Chinese friends

Get to know how they think, their interest areas, their past, and their expectations for the future. If you truly want to understand China, first understand several different types of people on a personal basis. As an added bonus, talking with them (in Chinese) will improve your listening and pronunciation and you'll be well on your way towards developing the guanxi you will need to succeed.

5. The more guanxi, the better

Get out and try new things, travel, talk to strangers at networking events, ask your friends and co-workers to introduce you to their friends and contacts. The more connections you have in China, the more success you will have.

6. Be astute, cautious and don't take risks that are not okay to take in your country

While risk taking is essential to succeed in most places, it could get you kicked out of China. Don't accept everything people tell you as the truth. Make sure to always get second or third opinions from people you trust. If someone tells you it's common practice in China to take and give bribes, that might be true but as a guest in this foreign land, stick to the straight and narrow and leave the risk taking to your Chinese colleagues who are more familiar with the territory.

7. Keep your sense of humor and sense of adventure

Shop where the locals shop, live like the locals live, and eat like the locals eat. Be patient. China is still classified as a developing country. As a result, you will encounter difficulties and differences from your home country. Things may take longer to accomplish, there may be more red tape than seems possible and you may be asked the same questions every day about your nationality, but have fun with it!

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