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Guan Xi: An American Girl in China, cont.

Today we headed to one of the biggest and best law firms in the city of Beijing, Jun He Law.  We were all exicted and pleasantly surprised to be greeted by a woman partner at the firm, who not only could clearly articulate her thoughts, but looked absolutely like a billion dollars in her clearly tailored custom suit.

Of course I asked her about…the SUIT!  And thinking it was tailored here, she replied of all places, her suit was made in Scotland! Ugh!

But….one of the more relevant questions came from another student today, who asked about guan xi.  Guan xi, from my understanding, is a more complicated phrase about social capital – along the lines of “it is not what you know, but who you know”.  This is deeply rooted in the Chinese culture as well, and the student asked how important guan xi was to being a lawyer in China.

The more I started thinking about guan xi, the more I think that I don’t care who you are – butcher, baker, candlestick maker – it HAS to not only be about what you know, but who you know as well.  I won’t go as far as assigning percentages to “success”, but I do know that I firmly believe so much in building social capital as a life skill that I require all my students to have business cards, and learn how to shake a hand and introduce themselves.  It really IS that important.  My network has blown me away with the awesome things it has brought to me and my books, and professional career as a whole.

So, while I cannot assign direct percentages, I can say that guan xi, if it means who you know while not sacrificing what you know, can be something that makes or breaks a career.  All things equal, two candidates with equal qualifications and one with a fat rolodex, guess who will be hired?  Yup, the peep with the big Rolodex.

It IS that important!

ps – the first floor lobby of the firm had a Starbucks in it.  God bless caffeine, and my tall brew today! YUM!

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