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Building strong business relationships is crucial for success in any market, but it is especially important in Asia where business is often conducted on a personal level. However, cultural differences and nuances can make building relationships challenging for Westerners doing business in Asia. In this article, we will explore some dos and don’ts for building stronger business relationships in Asia.


  1. Be Respectful: Showing respect is essential in Asian culture. This includes respecting local customs, traditions, and business practices. Take the time to learn about the local culture and customs before doing business in Asia. This will help you understand what is expected of you and show that you are invested in the local culture.
  2. Build Trust: Building trust is key to building strong business relationships in Asia. This can be achieved by being honest, transparent, and dependable. Deliver on your promises and be reliable. Remember, trust takes time to build, but it can be lost in an instant.
  3. Show Interest: Showing genuine interest in your business partners’ personal and professional lives can help you build stronger relationships. In many Asian cultures, business is conducted on a personal level, so taking the time to get to know your partners can pay dividends in the long run.
  4. Be Patient: Building strong relationships takes time in Asia. Be patient and take the time to get to know your partners. Don’t rush the process or push for quick results. Instead, focus on building a solid foundation for your business relationship.
  5. Respect Hierarchy: Hierarchy is an essential part of many Asian cultures. Showing respect for your partners’ position and status can help build trust and establish a strong business relationship. Always address your partners with the appropriate title and show deference to those in positions of authority.


  1. Don’t Rush: Rushing the process of building relationships in Asia can be counterproductive. Take the time to build a rapport with your partners and establish a foundation of trust before moving forward.
  2. Don’t Assume: Don’t assume that your business partners in Asia think or behave like you do. Always be mindful of cultural differences and adapt your approach accordingly.
  3. Don’t Be Too Direct: In many Asian cultures, indirect communication is preferred. Being too direct can come across as rude or aggressive. Instead, use subtle cues to convey your message and be respectful of your partners’ communication style.
  4. Don’t Forget Face: “Face” is an important concept in many Asian cultures. Losing face or causing someone to lose face can damage your business relationship. Always be mindful of your actions and how they may impact your partners’ face.
  5. Don’t Forget Follow-up: Follow-up is essential in building strong business relationships in Asia. Don’t let communication lapse after the initial meeting. Follow up regularly and stay in touch to maintain a strong business relationship.

Building strong business relationships in Asia requires a deep understanding of local customs, traditions, and business practices. By being respectful, building trust, showing interest, being patient, and respecting hierarchy, you can establish a solid foundation for your business relationship. Avoid rushing, assuming, being too direct, forgetting face, and forgetting follow-up to ensure a successful and long-lasting business relationship. With the right approach, building strong business relationships in Asia can be a rewarding experience that pays dividends in the long run.

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