By Doctor John  |  Posted 2006-09-08 Print this article Print

Civilization In Zhejiang Province, things were different. I still sometimes used a translator to help get bids on parts and services, but I had some Chinese skills, so I could understand most of what was being talked about. Guanshi, connections, are important in the Southeast, but less so than in the Central North.

Negotiation is different here. Present a detailed list of what is needed and expected, then wait for a price. Of course, the first price is the informal price, and a dinner or two is still needed, but far less so a liquid-based dinner. Red envelopes are not exchanged in Southeastern deals (unless there is a serious problem), but who you know is still the key.

Geeks versus suits. Click here to read about the great boardroom schism.

Anything you can dream of can be delivered in the Southeast. Prices are good (if you have connections), service is crap. Never expect an authorized technician to know anything. The techs for even the major suppliers have almost no technical skills, and they get paid less than $1 per hour to "help" you.

Transportation is a nightmare, unless you can speak Chinese. Knowing the right people is a big help. No, its not a big help-it is essential if you want to survive. In the Southeast there are so many people trying to get their slice of the pie that any original goal can be quickly lost. The Southeast is the home of the Chinese "new rich," and it is an impediment to effectual business. Once again, it is not a unique problem, but a matter of scale.

Back North

After some success in the Southeast, I got an offer to return to Inner Mongolia. The pay was good enough, and the location was good. Tongliao, Inner Mongolia. The job looked good. Some teaching. Setting up a new server room and network for language labs. Perfect!

In Tongliao, more than 60 percent of the people speak Mongolian. Might be closer to 70 percent. The first thing I decided to do was learn Mongolian. By this time, my Chinese was fair. I agreed to the contract and set off for Tongliao.

Click here for IT salary negotiation tips.

My Mongolian teacher (now my wife) introduced me to the right people. My job was to create a system for serving language teaching material for a large university. I had some minor troubles at the start, but things went quite well, all in all. Being able to speak Mongolian helped more than you can imagine. More than you can imagine, because IT there has very little to do with who you are or what you know, but it has everything to do with who you know and your reputation.

It was easier now to get what I needed to do my job. It was easier for a couple of reasons. Things that I needed were on the local market, and bribes didnt need to be paid to the "right people." I still needed to know the right people to get things done, but I didnt see that as bad. I need your help, I call you. You need my help, you call me.

Next Page: Southeast again.


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