Financial, Legal, Insurance & Management Services5 Minutes with ... Evelyn Groemminger of ChinaGateConsult

Evelyn Groemminger is the head of ChinaGateConsult, a company that expands business opportunity and provides an inside view of what is happening in the professional world of China. Evelyn has over 25 years of experience working with fast growing Chinese and global enterprises. Welcome to ‘5 Minutes With Evelyn’.

Chinawoman

Hi Evelyn, can you tell us a little bit about your history, what you do, and what first motivated you to start an international company abroad?

From a very young age on I was interested in Asia, Asian culture(s), and Asian history.

Over the years I have travelled extensively, mainly in Asia, and it become a burning desire to spend my life there. Once I started looking for possibilities, it quickly became clear to me:

as I come from a very organized country (Germany), I would not survive within the Asian business model without adequate business preparation.

The country I was most fascinated by was China. At that time, China was just opening up for international interaction, but for me it was like another planet. I had visited China as a tourist, but to live and work there was still out of my imagination. Instead of taking the leap at this time, I jumped on the opportunity to live in India when I got the chance. With an Indian/Canadian team, I built a wholesale company across southern India. Needless to say, these years were the toughest time of my life. However, it was also the beginning of actualizing the dream of having my own company in Asia. I started to think that with hard work I could do it - for myself and no one else.

Since then, I have built my own company and divided it into different professions such as trading, manufacturing, and consulting. I have experience as the founding Vice Chairman for the “Chamber of Commerce Ningbo Foreign Experts” which has given me direct contact to media and local government institutions. I have also written a documentary for Germans who come to live and  work in China.

Why did you choose China as your key market and how long have you lived there?

After India, I went to work in Hong Kong and there I had the possibility to deepen my experience with mainland China. During these years, I was constantly building my network in India, USA, Hong Kong and mainland China. Finally, it was time to move to China. I have now been living and working in China for 10 years.

How would you describe your relationship to China and the international market? Does China feel like ‘home’ or are you still perceived as a foreigner? How integrated are you into the culture and country?

The whole world is buying in China – China is the “manufacturer” for the whole world. 

China is also my home. The Chinese people do appreciate the fact that I have a deep interest in the country and the people; in return, I get their friendship. On the other side, I will always be a foreigner as the Chinese people and I come from completely different backgrounds and upbringing.

What kind of social media platforms do you use? Is your social media experience influenced by the Chinese Government’s Internet policies?

Social networking is important and creating a naturally growing group of people with common interests. Social media environment in China, however, is different from Western countries. Twitter and Facebook are usually not accessible. China has their own systems called QQ ( the former ICQ ), Weibo  (Chinese Twitter) and Sina which is similar to Facebook. However, when I travel (frequently), I am updating the Facebook and Twitter accounts to stay in touch. I do this based on the fact I have to use different channels to promote the business. 

I also have a newsletter database with over 3000 business contacts which I contact once a month with updates on my business. (Please do sign up if interested.)

Which channels do you find the most effective?

If I would have regular access to Xing, I would consider this most efficient. Twitter has become more like a big place of spam and junk information, Facebook more of a personal channel. As I am in China, I am using the Weibo and considering to get a Sina account. Of course, these channels are in Chinese language!

At exploreB2B, we work to provide a specialized platform for business professionals to share knowledge and connect. Do you have any advice for people using social media for marketing and/or other professional purposes?

Even when you are promoting your business, be yourself. Do not try just to sell a product. Offer benefits and communicate that you are the key to such benefits. Business should always be a win-win situation. Keep in mind that the customer is coming to you because he or she wants to make a profit with your help. 

Do you think social media has changed the way we intake news? If so, how?

There is a stream of news today which is a mix between personal and business-related information. Sometimes, it is quite disturbing to be confronted with personal problems of your customer or client which pop up in a social media while you are discussing business with him/her.

In my view, it has become more important to separate business from private and to draw this line between the two. One of the classic rules in business is to keep “business to the business” and "Schnapps to the Schnapps."

In the last few years, social media appears to have given momentum to major social and political movements. Do you see this as a pattern that will persist and influence the international relationships i.e. between China and Europe/US?

It is sometimes alarming to see how fast bad news and rumors are spreading via social media. It is often misused by groups and individuals for pressing personal interests onto people. Laws should be clear in order to stop such use of social media. 

On the other hand, social media is a good way to communicate quickly. It is just important to use the common sense and read twice before believing  "strange things". Eventually, social media will be replaced by something different. Probably today someone is already working on a new generation of "Facetwit," finding ways to become even more integrated - and in some way monopolized. We may be creating our own 1984 (George Orwell).

What has been the greatest benefit you’ve received from your engagement with social media?

Building a network within my own control, with whom I want to be connected and to communicate. It is a technical way to get in touch with people around the world.

 

*'5 Minutes With....' is an interview series by exploreB2B that elicits the success stories of entrepreneurs from around the globe. These businessmen and women take us through the history and methods by which they have reached the level of professional achievement they enjoy today, with the aid of social media. Connect with them on exploreB2B. 

Author

Susanna_gebauer_exploreb2bDr. Susanna GebauerexploreB2B GmbHGeschäftsführer, Gründer

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