How to use WeChat to make connections with Chinese agents
24 September 2019


WeChat is China's most popular messaging app with over one billion users. It is not only used for communicating with friends and family, but also in business. So, if you are looking to recruit English language students from the Chinese market, WeChat is a must.

Most Chinese agents and partners you meet on your visits, including at the China Roadshow or StudyWorld, will want to connect with you on WeChat. Some may even prefer to communicate with you via WeChat rather than email. If you are just breaking into the Chinese market, here is a quick overview to get you started.

Can't I just use Facebook, Twitter or WhatsApp in China?

Many popular social media and messaging apps and websites are unavailable in China, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. WhatsApp works in China, but it has limited functionality, unless used with a VPN service.

What's more, if it is hard work for a Chinese agent to stay in touch with you, your business relationship is going to suffer.

An essential principle of good communication is meeting your audience where they are. WeChat is incredibly popular in China and is used to order food, buy tickets, check travel and many other daily tasks. Your goal is to slot into their lives with ease. That could mean physically joining events they attend, but also being digitally available on the platforms they already use on a daily basis.

The best messaging, products and materials are of little use if they are not reaching anyone, and attempting to push partners to your existing platforms is unlikely to be successful. You are likely to have much more success if you use WeChat to connect with Chinese agents.

Set WeChat up in a couple of minutes

As with any new tool, it is wise to set it up and familiarise yourself with settings and functions before you need to use it. Setting up WeChat takes a couple minutes:

  • Download WeChat from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store
  • Launch the app and choose 'Sign Up' to create your account with a text verification code
  • Explore, add friends and start chatting.

WeChat is a social network like Facebook and WhatsApp. You can chat with friends, make free video calls, post status updates and share photos. The app can also be used to access maps, games, shopping and dating.

You may want to check out this YouTube video giving a quick introduction to setting up a WeChat account – remember that you cannot access YouTube in China!

Add and greet your existing Chinese partners

Once you are set up, start adding people via the 'Contacts' tab at the bottom. Search for people and businesses by phone number or WeChat ID, then add them to your network with the 'Follow' button. Be careful to add people you know with the correct contact details.

Start the conversation by tapping on the person you want to talk to in your contact list. You can type, record an audio message up to 60 seconds long, or make a call. Usefully, messages can be recalled within the first two minutes if you make a mistake.

Chit-chat about the weather and other casual, positive conversations are an important part of building a good relationship. Don't just use WeChat to arrange meetings and negotiate commissions. Start with a few positive comments about the weather or your experience in China before diving into business details. Voice message chats are popular as relationships become more established.

Connect with new business partners with a QR code

While some international businesses in China use email, it is not always the preferred method of communication. Instead you will find yourself scanning a QR code in the WeChat app to connect with Chinese agents and partners.

Access your own QR code by selecting the 'Me' option and tapping the QR code icon. You can scan the code with the built-in QR reader that can be found under the "Discover" tab. You may also be introduced to new contacts by a mutual partner via an impromptu group chat.

What about the language barrier?

WeChat will quickly translate messages if they aren't in your preferred language. But even though your messaging will likely be in English, demonstrating knowledge and understanding of Chinese business culture on WeChat can have a very positive impact.

If you use WeChat to connect with Chinese agents, try opening first message with "幸会!" This is an all-purpose greeting that means 'pleased to meet you'.

Keep Chinese agents up-to-date with WeChat moments

Moments can be used to keep agents up-to-date with your travels and experiences around China. Not unlike Facebook's newsfeed, you can share public posts and photos about people you have met or special offers and news about your centre.

Publish a post through 'My posts' in the 'Me' section or the 'Moments' section. You can also share a text message in 'Moments' by tapping and holding the camera icon. Be conscious that all your WeChat friends and contacts can see any updates you post unless you change your privacy settings. You can also view posts from your contacts under the 'Discover' tab.

Share documents or write longer messages from your computer

If you want to share a document or contract, it is often easier to connect to WeChat on your computer. You can either open WeChat in your web browser or download the app to your computer. You must have the app on your phone for both methods. You will be asked to scan a QR code for verification use the WeChat app.

Put your WeChat knowledge into action with English UK events

We hope you find this introduction helpful and feel confident using WeChat to connect with Chinese agents. If you are interested in attending the China Roadshow or meeting Chinese delegates at StudyWorld, please do not hesitate to contact Siobhan or call English UK on +44 20 7608 7960.

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