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Guanxi suffers from social networking

Updated: 2013-06-24 07:40
By Liu Jie ( China Daily)

The importance of guanxi in executives' career management in China is being seen as changing as a result of online career management and social media sites, according to a recently released survey.

The survey covered more than 100 executives in China. About 25 of them were Chinese nationals and 65 percent were expatriates. It was conducted by BlueSteps, the career management service of the Association of Executive Search Consultants - a worldwide professional association for the retained executive search and leadership consulting industry.

Guanxi suffers from social networking

The term guanxi is used in China to describe influential personal relationships. "Our survey results reflect the change in senior executives' career management strategies in China," said AESC Asia-Pacific Managing Director Christine Hayward. "The social networking websites, both international and Chinese, are playing a big role in the career management of executives in China currently."

Among those surveyed, 54.5 percent were either a managing director (29.7 percent) or chief executive officer (24.8 percent). The remaining participants hold job titles such as chief operations officer (8.9 percent), chief financial officer (5 percent), senior vice-president (4 percent) and executive vice-president (3 percent).

Of the respondents, LinkedIn remains the most popular tool for online career management. As many as 87.4 percent of respondents said they found LinkedIn was the most helpful among several choices, including Weibo, Renren and Ushi. Only a few respondents indicated Chinese social media, such as Weibo and Ushi, played an important role in their career management. Interestingly, the mobile text app WeChat or Weixin is used by only 8 percent as part of their career management strategy, said Hayward.

Meanwhile, 48 percent of the respondents said they use a social media website on a daily basis. A total of 44 percent said they use one on a weekly basis, 2 percent log on to these sites monthly and 6 percent log on less than once a month.

To senior executives in China, having an online presence on websites such as LinkedIn is, they say, crucial. However, while the vast majority of these senior executives have active and up-to-date online profiles and many have been approached by recruiters online, only 19.6 percent have found a job as a result.

For today's executives, the main driver for using online networking is the fact they are expanding networks, enabling people to stay connected with other people within their networks, said the report. It added that keeping ahead of trends in the market, promoting their organizations and sharing information are also reasons to stay connected.

The surveyed executives observed a change in the importance of personal relationships and in personal networking guanxi.

One of the respondents said that because of the popularization of social media and social networks, the social and economic environment in China has become more and more transparent and modern.

"Guanxi turns out to be a fragile concept under such conditions. It presents an opportunity for people with real capability and a true emotional quotient, while also presenting a challenge to everybody in executive positions," he said.