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High-Level Delegation Visit

How to position and execute a successful professional or trade delegation – Finding the right people to meet with to create valuable and successful programs with Chinese counterpart organizations/counterpart relations 

Delegation visits are essential for associations to enhance relations with key stakeholders and help (re-)assess their goals to develop a successful long-term strategic plan in China. A counterpart strategy is very important for success in China. China is a strong relationship-based society, cultivating the right relations and maintaining them will impact major business decisions and determine the success of your organization in China. Hence scheduling a regular leadership visit to China to meet with your stakeholders is important. It also requires strategic planning and careful communication in order to make the most of the visit.  

Objective of the Visit  

Organizations will have different objectives for their high-level delegation visit to China, which may include: 

  • Visiting relevant government agencies  
  • Building and maintaining the relations with counterparts (industry and academia) 
  • Engaging with members and volunteer leadership  
  • Branding and positioning  
  • Information exchange and market intelligence  

No matter what objectives the organization will have, it is very important to identify which stakeholders to visit in light of long-term strategic goals; and how to leverage the visit to directly impact the organization’s overall strategy and future collaboration in China. Your goal could be for each party’s leadership to be introduced to exchange thoughts and ideas on collaborative programs, further explore each other business objectives, or formalize relations for signing MoU or collaboration agreement, and it will take careful planning and communication to make sure to reach these goals. 

Planning of the Visit  

Once you establish the objectives and wish list of counterparts to visit, you can start prioritizing potential targets based on importance and location. Firstly, confirming the delegates that will represent your organization, which will directly impact the level of the targets from counterpart; secondly, strategically communicating your intentions to the targets via formal invitation and informal follow-up with the designated contact.  

An important part of the preparation process is to maintain good communications with the designated contact in order to prepare the agenda items and exchange talking points from both sides, it is not uncommon in China to know the outcome of the meeting before going into it, which requires good communications. It is important to do your homework, to understand the objective of the counterpart, and the KPI of the leadership. Be prepared that in China many details of the meetings, including timing and exact attendance, may not get confirmed until the very last minute, therefore, you need to build flexibility into your schedule and work around the high-priority targets.   

Execution of the Visit  

Important to be aware of the differences in the language and culture, during the visit, the interpreter and someone to help bridge is a key factor, not only the interpretation of the dialogue, but the signal behind the conversations. Of course, make sure you familiarize yourself with cultural and business etiquettes.  

Often delegation visits are good moments to formalize relations and to further collaborations, for example, by signing a MoU or collaboration agreement.   

Plan for time with your local team and interpreters to wrap up after key meetings and conversations to ensure you correctly capture dynamics and nuances and have a realistic perspective on the outcome.  

Based on the agreed items, share additional information requested and follow up with the local contact from the counterpart for further action. Decide together with your local team on how to handle follow-up communications and leverage their position in China, to support high-level communications with headquarters. Review the outcomes of the visit against the strategy and objectives, and update your future action plan as needed.  

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