Great References but what about your Guanxi?

guanxiDuring several business trips to China, Chinese business friends have made it painfully clear that Asian business terrain is no place for an inexperienced American. As they launch into this warning, it’s commonplace to speak about the power of their “guanxi” to help navigate Americans as they do business in China. Guanxi , an important element in Chinese society, is a network of contacts which one calls upon when something needs to be done.

rolodexIn the United States, when a company is hiring new sales or marketing personnel, how much value is placed in one’s guanxi? I suspect very little. In the past, one might hire a salesperson with a good rolodex and references, but in today’s economy one’s web reach should also be considered.

Imagine you own a printing company. You’re interviewing a 25 year old who comes with 1,000 twitter followers, 4,000 facebook friends, and a weekly blog titled “creativity for B2B marketers within non-creative industries.” Do you think the interviewee will just talk about conflict resolution and their skills at navigating MS Office? Absolutely not – they’ve got web-guanxi!

During your next hire, consider the following two things which I learned from my friends at HubSpot. First, create a spreadsheet that allows you to note the reach each applicant has on different social media platforms. Second, during the interview, explore how often the applicant talks about work within their social media communities. With these two simple steps, you could hire employees with web reach and guanxi your organization can leverage.


JP AndersonJP Anderson serves as Director of Admissions at Northeastern Seminary in Rochester, NY. He is currently completing a Master of Science in Strategic Marketing at Roberts Wesleyan College.

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2 Responses to Great References but what about your Guanxi?

  1. JP – So interesting. Excellent advice for hiring managers who might feel just the opposite… maybe they don’t understand why a network is a good thing. They might feel it’s a negative.

    thanks for shedding light on this complicated issue. I’m sure the students at the seminary will benefit from your insights!

  2. Jackie says:

    With social media tools, it really allows an employer to check out if the potential employee really knows what they are talking about. Gone are the days where it was easy to make things up on your resume. You can still make it up, but you better believe it is going to be verified. It is an interesting tool for employers, hopefully employees are up on it as well!