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Interview for Chinese magazine about business networking in Beijing, China

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

Earlier in 2015 I did an interview with a Chinese magazine “International Talent’ about networking in China as a foreign professional. Click to read or you can read the article below if the link no longer works.

Building Business Network in China – International Talent Magazine, China

International Talent magazine Interview screenshot

 

 

Building Business Network in China

2015-10-12 本文来自:《国际人才交流》2015/10 作者:ANASTASIA SUKHORETSKAYA分享|

Business networking today is an integral part of building one’s business. The more social connections you have, the more chances you will get to rely on a helping hand in business once you need it. It is not a secret that the Chinese are gurus in networking, as their family bonds are very strong, and, for the most part, it is with a family, where the networking begins in China. However, it is even more important for a foreigner to network in China, especially for the newcomers who found themselves in a very unfamiliar environment and are in need of advice or guidance in some way.
On the internet, the definitions for business networking goes as “the linking together of individuals who, through trust and relationship building, become walking, talking advertisements for one another.” Professional business networking events are staged in mostly big cities in China like Beijing and Shanghai. I won a chance to talk to three business network professionals, based in Beijing, who shared with me what it is like building connections in China for foreigners. They all have been living in Beijing long enough to become familiar with the local business environment and came up with the solutions what a foreigner in China needs to know in order to survive and prosper here.
A founder of FCGroup, a company specialized on networking events in China, is Colin Friedman, an English-born Israeli. He first came to China in the remote 1998 as a foreign expert to work for an Israeli company. In 2005 he resigned and started his own company which was a first step to organizing professional business networking events. Mr. Friedman commented: “There were so many questions from moving to China foreigners like how to start doing something in China, all the answers to which I could not know but other people might know.” After a while he started doing his own networking events for three reasons: first, he wanted to legally acquire a data base of all the contacts; second, he enjoyed meeting new people; third, he thought it would be a good way to advertise a company he had set up.
Now, FCGroup pro-actively helps people to build and strengthen business and professional connections and guanxi in order to leverage and focus business and career objectives. They hold the events every Tuesday, organize monthly daytrips and larger events once per quarter. On my inquiry, who mostly come to the events, Colin responded that it’s always people who can speak English and mostly white collars, with some of the participants just beginning their career and probably not as well-off as people of older age. “There are people who are coming on bicycles and people who are coming on Mercedes Benz”, added Mr. Friedman. Colin’s networking events have different topics every session; normally they can also include some guest lecturers and wine tasting, and always – a lucky draw. The guest lecturers give useful tips on how to sign the contract or compile a resume for foreigners to get a job in China. To break the ice at the beginning of the events, every guest is given a badge with his name and “I am recruiting”, “I’m looking for a new job” labels on the badge of different color. According to Mr. Colin Friedman, there are countless people who found job opportunities, countless people who built business connections and their own business because they met necessary people at his events. Albeit online social network is getting stronger, all of them are cold and impersonal. The advantage of networking events, as said Mr. Colin, is that you get a chance to meet the recruiters and hand them your resume. And it means more chances for you, once your CV lands on their desk.
Vadzim Suhak, a Belarussian-born, working for Russian Culture Center in Beijing, is another networking expert who organizes business networking events for expats in Beijing. He used to do this back in Belarus when he was a student and now brought his experience to Beijing. Vadzim tells: “In other countries rather than China, the way how networking event is conducted is slightly different as the western people don’t need the curator who will be intentionally introducing participants to each other. It is in the nature of a westerner to get to know as many people as they can even though after a while they would forget their names. Concerning Russians and Chinese, they both have many things in common, but still, there are some peculiarities. For example, for the Chinese, the status of his counterpart is important. Russians easily interact on business meetings rather than in normal life, while for the Chinese it’s vice versa”, added Vadzim, “In China more emphasis is placed on the importance of “one of us” or “zijiren” people. According to Mr. Vadzim Suhak, the Chinese more than other nations ask what kind of people will be present at the event. Though for the Chinese people it doesn’t matter what profession you have as they consider every person can be useful – you might know a friend of a friend who can be introduced. This scene is rare in Russia. In addition, the Chinese express more curiosity to people of other nationality, and this trait allows them to interact with foreigners freely. Deviating from the nations’ differences, Mr. Vadzim Suhak said that nowadays offline networking events finely coexist with online networking websites and social platforms like linkedin, facebook, wechat. When people meet each other, they tend to exchange their wechat data, emails, social network profiles etc. At the event, the role of a curator is very important. Sometimes, the organizer needs to uncouple participants who have been chatting for a long time just because it seemed impolite for them to stop the conversation, and in their heart, they were grateful to the organizer for that. Another thing that a good networker should remember is that networking is always an exchange, and if you want to receive something, you need to give something in return. According to Vadzim, networking is more important than the revenue that you as an organizer might get. “Sometimes in different situations like when you are sending your child to school, you need to know the principal of the school; or find an expert in a certain area, networking comes in handy. Money is not a tool, but a final result that is earned by means of cooperation with others. Nowadays the reality is that no one guarantees you job for good. Contracts are signed yearly, and situation often changes. That’s why networking is essential in our changeable times.”
Jarome Matthew, a sound designer and audio engineer, with his own company in Beijing, is organizing networking events and serves as a council for Internations’s networking group. Mr. Jarome Matthew comes from Canada, he has been in China for five years. He says: “Of course, we are new here, and networking is important for me to meet new people and colleagues.” His events are staged monthly on Mondays. Mr. Jarome Matthew’s networking activities focus mostly on his professional area – audio, sound, music, acting. But topics vary. “We choose different topics. For example, last time the topic was how to stay healthy in China. And we invited a lecturer. He talked about the pollution of the factories and how China invest lots of money to improve the situation”, Jarome added. The guest speakers lecture about working permits and immigration laws for foreigners, they can give advice on how to avoid problems in China and help people stay in China for longer.
Albeit all the positive and bright sides of the networking, it takes plenty of time. Also, Jarome Matthew, along with Vadzim Suhak and Colin Friedman, pointed out that the Chinese seem to be more timid at the events and they need a curator to foster their interaction with each other.
They say, where your friends are, there your riches are. Business networking is not always about job and business partners seeking. First of all, it is about broadening your circle of friends. The organizers of the events do their best to create a relaxing environment, to involve people into interaction. It doesn’t matter which country you choose to live in, surrounding yourself with like-minded people is as important as having a good job. In this sense, business networking events in Beijing are served to make life of expats more enjoyable helping the latter with adaptation to a new scene.

Music company Pro Soul officially launches in Beijing, China

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Chinese flag

I have some big news. I have merged my music production work with my music marketing and promotion company, Pro Soul Alliance.
And I’m excited to officially announce something we’ve been working on for over 2 years now, launching Pro Soul Alliance in China.

China is a huge, emerging market for the music industry, but currently in it’s infancy, and immature. Professional assistance is desperately needed due to crippling discouragement for artists attributed to the pervasive downloading of music. There is also a huge lack of ‘official’ presence for foreign artists who are becoming very popular in China. That means huge opportunity for those willing to support, develop and nurture this challenging market.

At the end of 2011, Pro Soul announced a new world class recording and production studio in Beijing as our first step. Now we are offering promotion, marketing, sales and distribution both within China and outside to our existing artists and Chinese artists through our local office in Beijing. Unlike other companies offering music services in China, we are based within China, and our local office is staffed with bilingual locals who know the market and culture, and have experience working with Chinese and international artists here.
Pro Soul has been legally registered as a Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise in China under the name ‘敬真堂(北京)文化咨询有限公司’ Which translates to ‘Respect Truth (Beijing) Culture Consultancy Co. Ltd.’ (This was as close as we could get to our english name given the language and cultural differences. We kind of like how depending on the translation of our Chinese name, it can mean ‘Church of Truth’)

Because China is a complex and daunting market for a foreign company, we are starting out with the following basic range of services:

For Chinese artists:

 

  • Focusing on getting Chinese artists who are ready exposure internationally
  • Getting international distribution and sales for Chinese music (iTunes, Spotify, Nokia)
  • Promotion and marketing for Chinese artists overseas by connecting with interested markets and fans

 

For International Artists:

  • Digital distribution for international artists in China (including essential mobile stores China Mobile, Unicom, Telecom)
  • Promotion and marketing in China focusing on key social networking sites like Weibo, Douban, Youku
  • Collaboration with Chinese artists and recording traditional Chinese instruments with local professionals

As Pro Soul continues researching the industry and experimenting with new techniques for promotion and marketing music in China, we will also be offering licensing for Chinese music internationally in Film, TV, and online, expanding their revenue sources. We will also assist Chinese artists who are ready create their own business and develop music career in China to maximize their profit and control. Of course we will also be able to assist international artists book shows and organize tours in China in future.

Pro Soul has already begun assisting international artists Elika Mahony, and Hart as well as Chinese artist Abominati get exposure in China.

You can sign up right now for promotion, marketing and  distribution in China with the ‘Professional Artist Management and Consulting Asia’ option on our Get Started page.
For artists within China, we have a new website entirely in Chinese with a helpful blog focused on the local market.

For more information, please contact our China artist services manager BeiBei Lei

This means you will see less posts on my blog about music business, promotion and marketing, and music production as more of those posts will be featured on the Pro Soul Alliance blog so please check it out and subscribe for some great information like how to earn money licensing music on youtube, and my latest news and projects!

My meeting with Lady Gaga manager Troy Carter

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Last may I was at a music conference in Singapore called Music Matters, focused on the future of the music industry, particularly in Asia.
(Thanks to the talented Michael aka Mobidextrous & Miss Melody for helping making this happen!)

Although I didn’t hear too much that I hadn’t heard before, it was great to gain some insights into the music scene in Asia, where Korean Pop is becoming like Beatlemania, and Mainland China is still no where to be seen…
Amongst many industry leaders and respected professionals, I had the pleasure of spending some time briefly with the busy Troy Carter, manager for Lady GaGa.

Troy Carter with Jarome Matthew of Pro Soul Alliance
Troy Carter. Lady Gaga’s manager and I

We discussed the importance of Asia for Lady GaGa despite difficulties in places like Indonesia with pressure from Islamic groups causing cancellation of her show there this week.

Troy confirmed that China is an important place for the future of Lady GaGa, but given the undeveloped state of the music industry there and various other challenges for foreign artists, they will take some time to plan and prepare for an official presence in Mainland China.
Ga Ga however sold out 4 shows in Hong Kong recently, with many mainland Chinese attending.

I was happy to hear Troy confirm that building a relationship with fans is the most important thing an artist can do, even for a major success like Gaga. he also talked about the importance of being comfortable with using social media and other technology to connect with fans, as important as touring was 20 years ago.

I look forward to helping out when China is ready for Lady GaGa’s appearance in the near future!

Troy Carter, manager, Lady Gaga

Moving the studio

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

That’s right, after 3 great years, I’m moving my studio to my home next week. I had planned to blog about it much earlier, but then we were suddenly told to drop everything and go to Vietnam to adopt a baby (An update on that & what has happened in my next blog…).

Because I will be doing a lot more work overseas next year, I decided it didn’t make sense to have a separate studio here that is costing me when I won’t even be here! So I’m moving the studio to my home and will be working with a friends studio locally when recording is necessary in Vancouver.Jarome Studio 2006

It was a hard decision, as this was definitely the best sounding studio I’ve had, interesting as it was quite a simple setup, but there was something about the sound in there that gave this lovely air when mixing, and it had a comfy homey feeling when recording.
Had some fantastic times in there working with amazing artists like Elika Mahony, Heather Dore, Laura Harley, and Bahiyyih.

We custom built the studio as a double walled enclosure, and acoustically treated the walls, and put in wood flooring.

It seems every time I build a studio, the time I actually get to use it before something happens becomes less and less… Hopefully my next studio will last more than 3 years! I really thought I would be there and use the space for a lot longer than I did, but life changes.

In terms of how this will affect my work, things will be continuing as usual as far as what I can do and the quality of my work. I’ve made sure those things won’t be affected. What will change is my availability in Vancouver. If you want to work together on a project, make sure you schedule it now, because my time here next year will be limited!

In going through everything I have to prepare to move, I found some pretty amazing memorabilia from my music past… Im going to post some of those things in future blogs, so keep an eye out.

I’m also selling some vintage analog gear as I part with things I don’t use as much to make room for new additions that I need more now with my work and the way technology changes. If your interested in an Emax 2 sampler, Korg SDD-1000 delay fx, Behringer MX 2642A Mixer, or a Symetrix 528 vocal processor/preamp channel strip, then let me know.

I have to say, I’m really looking forward to all the time I’ll be saving not having to commute, and the money that will be saved as well. This has been a really tough year, and I really need a break and to make some major changes in the way I work, badly.

Branford Marsalis on the state of musicians

Friday, June 26th, 2009

“All my students are really interested in hearing is how right they are and how good they are, the same mentality that basically forces Harvard to give out B’s to people that don’t deserve them out of the fear that they’ll go to other schools that will give them B’s and those schools will make the money.
We live in a country that seems to be in this massive state of delusion, where the idea of what you are is more important than you actually being that.
All they want to hear is how good they are and how talented they are, and most of them aren’t really willing to work to the degree to live up to that.

Today, Stevie Wonder would not get a shot (in the music industry)”

– Jazz legend Branford Marsalis, from the documentary film, ‘Before Music Dies’

Check out the film, it’s a great, honest look at the music industry today.


Before Music Dies documentary

Thanks Sarah Lynn for sharing this film with me.

The Quest for Balance in My Life

Monday, April 6th, 2009

For the last couple years, I’ve been on a quest for balance in my life. Just basic things like a couple days off a week and the time necessary to create the best work possible regardless of budget elude me.

I’d like to argue that a decent income can no longer get you a bit of savings and a roof over your head due to the poor planning and selfishness of previous generations, but when it comes down to it, I have taken on far more than I should financially making it so that I need to work constantly. This has little to do with me being a workaholic, being inefficient, or not charging enough, the amount I work is basically out of necessity to cover expenses.

Seeing the now famous documentary ‘The Story Of Stuff’ again recently was a reality check for me. I couldn’t stop thinking, how did I become one of those people, that in their quest for stuff they thought they needed, (no matter how ‘necessary’) had sacrificed balance in life? Sure, I deserve to have a nice car, and own a great home, but the reality of the world, where I live in North America anyway, is that it’s not really possible for most people if you want to have balance and freedom in your life.

I’ve realized that having time, for myself, and things important to me besides my work is not only essential to helping me be the person I’m meant to be, but it is more important to me than any of those things that society tells us we need, or think will bring happiness. In fact, I’ve started getting rid of as much as I can, starting with things that are worth money, including big things like my new car, and my home. And before you think I’ve lost it, I’m not the only successful business owner to do so, Derek Sivers, founder of the largest indie music retailer in the world wrote a great blog about doing just this called ‘Ahh, to own nothing’.

Getting rid of stuff that ties you down is so freeing and liberating!

And I’ve started to build my businesses with the same philosophy, so I can operate anywhere, without being tied down to one place. It’s a monumental task, but thanks to developments in management techniques, outsourcing and technology, It can now be done.

Next, I’m focusing on the 20% of my actions that are actually effective, and reducing or eliminating the 80% that aren’t. A great book I just finally read that is helping me with this ‘The Power Of Focus’.

At this point, I’m working on getting a few days off a month. By the end of the year, I expect to have a 5 day work week like most of the planet…

So what has helped you achieve the balance you want in life?

Warner Music Group axed our video

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

I blogged recently on Pro Soul Alliance about Warner Music Group removing all their content from youtube rather than earn millions per month in royalties in it’s ever increasing number of one terrible business decision after another.

We’re now a victim of this decision, having received a removal notice from Youtube for Laura and my video ‘Enjoy The Cylons‘ since we did a remake of a Warner track by Depeche Mode. The band of course has no say in the matter as they don’t own their music.

I decided to allow the video to stay on youtube, I would replace the audio with licensed content. Unfortunately, youtube doesn’t let you use your own selection…
We would have gladly paid a royalty to release this video, but Warner is not interested.

The fact that Warner is not only missing huge promotional opportunities for their artists, but throwing away income for them in doing this is a sure sign that it is now a very bad idea to do business with a major record label.

China trip and the launch of Pro Soul Alliance

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

I’m back from an amazing and productive trip to Beijing where I got to meet and work with some fantastic new artists as well as the immensely talented Elika Mahony. I blogged all about it on the new Pro Soul site, where I will be posting a lot of my music business entries from now on: www.prosoul.com

Yes, that’s right, Pro Soul Alliance, the new innovative 21st century record label is now live and ready to take on the artists of a new music industry! It’s a very exciting accomplishment, and we’ve put countless hours of research and effort into creating a truly ground breaking solution for artists everywhere.
We’ve assembled an amazing international team that is consistently expanding to provide an incredible range of services and research to assist artists of all genres from all over the world to connect with their audience and monetize their music in new ways that reflect the changes in the way people want to hear music.
There is really nothing like Pro Soul out there for artists and you will undoubtedly be hearing more about it in the near future! Would love to hear your comments and feedback.

It sure has been an exciting year, and things are just getting going! Hard to beleive it’s almost December.

Where is the music industry going?

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

I’ve been hinting at a big venture I’ve been involved in and working hard on with my partner Roshena Huang for some time now, even though haven’t said much lately, but i’m ready to start talking more about it. It’s the relaunch of my record label, Pro Soul as a totally reinvented company… more on that later. First though, why exactly did we have to reinvent the company? Because the music industry is drastically changing as is more than evident these days.

So where is it going? Well, no one can really predict the future, so we can really only guess. As Andrew Dubber has said, Anyone who says that they know where the music industry is going is either a liar or a fool. Either way, ignore them.

We DO know what the future of the music industry WON’T be. The future will not be the past.

That means if you’re doing what you were doing ten or even five years ago, you are simply not relevant in the music business! If you are not undergoing an aggressive period of radical change, completely redesigning your business from scratch in this industry right now considering where things are going, then your in trouble, just like the big guys.

So that is what were doing with Pro Soul Alliance – aggressive, radical change and complete redesign. And it’s a lot of work, but it’s also very exciting and different, stay tuned!

The irrelevant news media

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

For years now, I’ve been racking my brain as to why the media seems to have no interest in even attempting to explain what is really going on in the music industry rather than spread PR driven hype from major corporations…
This quote really says it all:

“That’s what’s wrong with newspapers.  Writing articles so neutral as to be uninformative.  What’s that cliche?  If tomorrow Dick Cheney said the earth was flat, even the “New York Times” would write: “Roundness of the Earth in question.”   – Bob Lefsetz

I have two essential things to say of my own regarding this problem in our society that you will ‘get’ in terms of their source depending on who you are: “independent investigation of truth”, and “Don’t believe the hype”