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This article was published on November 11, 2008

    Why Shel Israel has a different set of cards in China

    Why Shel Israel has a different set of cards in China
    Ernst-Jan Pfauth
    Story by

    Ernst-Jan Pfauth

    Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He a Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He also served as The Next Web’s blog’s first blogger and Editor in Chief, back in 2008. At De Correspondent, Ernst-Jan serves as publisher, fostering the expansion of the platform.

    I’m touring around China with bloggers. I hope to give you as many updates as possible about this land of endless opportunities. Thanks to Spil Games for sponsoring me.

    In March I wrote a post about the fact that Facebook means “doomed to die” in Chinese. I also mentioned some other East Asian misunderstandings. While I’m touring China, I see tons of other cultural differences that make the interaction between China and the west even more interesting. To give you an idea, I’ll highlight some examples the coming days.

    Blogger and writer Shel Israel experienced one of those cultural differences first hand. He now has two sets of business cards – of which one is for Chinese people, as his normal business cards have lead to some misunderstandings while meeting web professionals here in China.

    The card I got says “Writer. Speaker. Nice Guy” as his title and has the following Hugh MacLeod cartoon on the back:

    But that’s not the one Israel hands out to Chinese business relations, he told me. “They don’t have the same kind of humor”, Israel says. “I had to explain what lifestyle I referred to and then they still didn’t get why anyone would put that on his card.” Joking around with your job title also didn’t have the planned effect. Some people actually thought that being a nice guy was an actual role in the American corporate world.

    So take this lesson from Israel. If you have an original business card, think about the effect it can have on people from a different culture. Same goes for your personal branding online, of course.