Why You Need WeChat for Chinese Business

Today, we are going to talk about why you need WeChat for Chinese business. However, before we start, it might help, if I tell you a little bit about myself.

I talked about the importance of WeChat on my previous post about what about “Banned List of Imports into China“.

I’m originally from the UK. I have been a brewer for 25 years and first came to China in 2010. I met my wife out here 8 years ago on my 2nd stint in China.

WeChat for Chinese Business - Weixin for Business

We moved back to China last year with our daughter and now call China our home. Since being back, I decided to pivot to being a brewing consultant in China.

As Covid-19 struck jobs dried up and it was the push I needed to finally go independent.

One of the First Question I Always Ask My Client

I now help people purchase equipment and materials in China, connect people in the drinks industry overseas with partners in China, as well as other sourcing and link-ups.

This soon leads to me to asking clients and people overseas…

“Do you have WeChat?” and the answer usually is…

“No, I don’t want another social media app” or “WeChat, I don’t trust it”.

Now that’s fair enough, we all get swamped by social media. Be it, Facebook, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter plus a host of others. We have all read about how Chinese apps spy on you.

However, Chinese business really does revolve on WeChat. If you want to do business in China, with people based in China or Chinese people overseas then WeChat is a must.

It will make communication easier and your connection will be able to respond without having to connect to a VPN first.

WeChat for Chinese Business

WeChat for Chinese Business – Other Communication Apps

If you have dealings with China, most of the first contacts for a company, like the sales representative, for example will have other communications apps like WhatsApp. The Chinese company will most likely have a Facebook page too.

However, to access these apps and websites you need to use a VPN in China. It works but it isn’t always convenient. Having to switch a VPN, on and off all the time to communicate within and outside China.

Some apps do work in China, but they can be slow or not have all the functionality with a VPV on.

Also, as you first point of contact, these “faces” of the company will then switch to WeChat to get the information you need or reach out to someone else within their company.

It makes everything slower.

Also, you can be missing out valuable connections if you don’t have WeChat. People in China and Chinese people elsewhere are quite happy to give out their WeChat account information to connect.

They will, then be happy to chat on WeChat straight away after that first meeting to cement the relationship. It’s the modern-day business card, BUT makes communication instant.

Shanghai at night panoramic view
Panoramic View of Shanghai at Night

A Quick Example from Today

Here is one reason I am writing this article. It was an interaction I had today. I’m staying in a short-term apartment in Jiangsu for business. I went to reception to ask about an issue.

I them met the operational manager of the company who looks after the local area. He was a really nice guy. We got talking about how all the people who stay in these apartments, apart from myself were all Chinese.

He said he wanted to open up the property, to make it appealing to foreigners. Be it students or business people on short term contracts. I said I could help and had a few ideas.

We shared WeChat and we have been chatting ever since, we both agree that working together could be mutually beneficial.

So, a 5-minute conversation leading to follow-up on 10-minute conversation on WeChat might lead to a business relationship.

If we shared emails or WhatsApp, I know that this potential business relationship would have been harder to cement so quickly.

It might not lead to anything, but in two short interactions we have our next step planned and a promise to communicate again soon.

This is the power of WeChat.

WeChat for Chinese Business - Urban China
Urban China

Group Communications

Where the REAL power of WeChat is, is in group communications. It’s just much easier to use and interface with WeChat compared to WhatsApp or other similar apps.

It easy to send messages (voice or text), files, share contacts, location (real time and one-off pin) and transfer money.

Also, you can translate a message into your native language at the touch of button in the app! So, if you have multiple people texting in different languages you can all get your point across easily.

Although, the translation isn’t always perfect. However, you can “re-translate” inside the app using several third-party translation services.

All these functions can happen at the touch of a few buttons. It creates an easy to use multi-function messaging app which works for you to communicate quickly in a number of ways.

It allows you to be in multiple groups within your own company or project. So, that you can communicate quickly and easily with the relevant people and others can be added when needed.

When I worked for AB InBev in China, this was the how day-to-day communication was done throughout the company with email as secondary. It allowed easy communication in groups where people were in multiple geographical locations.

All Social Media
I understand there are other options other than WeChat

But WeChat isn’t Safe

Yes, WeChat doesn’t have end-to-end encryption like WhatsApp. I can’t deny that. There are some tips to keep you safer:

  1. Always update the app – As with any popular app, the more users, the more attractive it is to cybercriminals. Always update the app to get the latest security patches.
  2. Use a strong password – Use a unique password that you only use for WeChat. If WeChat gets compromised then it will not affect other accounts.
  3. Look at the permissions – If you limit the permissions WeChat has, to those that only allow the app to function then you’ll be better off.
  4. Don’t add user you don’t know – People will create fake accounts. Only add people you know if you get a friend request. You can message people within the app before accepting them.
  5. Don’t use the WeChat shake function – Same as above you don’t know who you are connecting with
  6. Change your privacy settings immediately – You can change how you add or find people on WeChat and block unfriendly users. Tap any toggle button to enable or disable a setting. If a toggle is pushed right (and is green) it is enabled. If it is toggled to the left (and grey) it is disabled.
10 Brewing Commandments
Communication is Key!

Still, I concede it isn’t for everybody. I am in China and I couldn’t do business without having WeChat installed on my phone and computer.

Just today I got paid via WeChat a commission on a sale. It took the client 2-3 clicks for them to send me the money and 1 click for me to accept the commission.

So, you see, I’ve had two useful exchanges involving business that happened just today. I did a lot more chatting online today too about potential business in the future.

WeChat for Chinese Business – Conclusions

I understand people’s apprehension about installing WeChat on their phone. If you don’t feel comfortable then don’t install it. I am just pointing out its value if you want to do busines in China or with Chinese people.

It is how every Chinese person communicates for business and pleasure over here. I have WeChat and if you want it, it can be downloaded…

If you want to add me on WeChat, them simply scan the QR code below in the WeChat app.

Add Me On WeChat
If you want to add me, say who you are and why you want to add me please

Thanks for taking the time to read my article, I hope you found it useful and please feel free to add me on WeChat. However, please make sure you tell me who you are and where you found me.

I will probably do a search for you on LinkedIn to double check myself. Because as I say in the article you can’t be too careful. Well thanks again and have a good day.



Neil Playfoot

Neil is a brewer with 25 years international brewing experience. Based out of China (first came in 2010) he works as a brewing consultant helping brewers with their projects and brewing processes. To find out what services Neil can provide your brewery please click here. If you'd like to contact Neil you can email at neil@asianbeernetwork.com.
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