Inspire heads to Shanghai!

By Chris Downing, CTA, ACA, MAAT­ Associate Director.

Tigers, roof-top drinks, Chinese cuisine and a medical emergency! Inspire’s Associate Director, Chris Downing has been globe-trotting for the 2015 International Referral Conference! Listen to his story on our latest Inspire Blog post.

Last week I packed my bag and headed to China for the International Referral “On the Road” conference. After an eleven hour flight, I finally arrived in the exciting and fast-paced city of Shanghai for three days of relationship building and networking with Inspire’s international contacts.

I was welcomed with round table discussions focusing on a variety of issues businesses face in different countries across the world. This gave me the opportunity to meet the variety of delegates I would be spending the next few days with. The evening was followed by a more glamorous roof-top drinks session, showcasing astonishing views across the city.

Meeting professionals from a variety of cultures, showed me the different networking techniques used across the globe. Some more direct with less small talk, compared to the traditional British method of getting to know someone first. Furthermore, whilst the Indian and Chinese delegates preferred to network during the day time, the Europeans and Americans tended to socialise in the more informal bar setting during the evening hours!

The next morning welcomed our first full day of the conference ­ however a few I had met at the previous evening drinks session didn’t make the 9am start. Jet lag? Possibly not!

Image courtesy of International Referral

This session focused on the expansion of China’s influence across the globe as well as Chinese trading rules and regulations. It was made very clear that China is a country that cannot be ignored in the twenty-first century, as neither a buyer nor a seller. There has been a huge amount of investment in overseas infrastructure, designed not only to assist the Chinese people in importing goods but also helping Chinese companies export to other parts of the world. The numbers are truly mind boggling! Find out more.

That evening we were taken out to an authentic Chinese restaurant which tested my chopstick skills to the maximum. Of course this was followed by more European/American networking!

On the final day we were taken in groups to various tourist attractions in the local area. This gave us the chance to see the country and also spend more time with other attendees and to build upon the relationships established in the first few days.

Firstly we visited the Classical Gardens of Suzhou, a world heritage site, made up of 69 landscape gardens based upon traditional Chinese garden design spanning a period of almost 1,000 years. Secondly, the Suzhou Silk Factory where we were taught that the only way to see if something is pure silk is to set fire to it and see what colour it burns! Well, there is also the method of touch but that is less interesting.

Finally we went to the 36 metre tall Huqui grave, where legend says that a white tiger appeared on the hill to guard the grave days after King Helu’s burial. I can personally guarantee that there are no longer any wondering tigers! Of course this was followed by an evening of more essential networking!

Whilst my flight back was less delightful – with a medical emergency part way through the flight resulting in turning back to China – the trip to Shanghai was a fantastic opportunity for Inspire. I met experts from all over the world and made strong connections with professionals from over twenty different countries. As part of our international service to our clients, being part of this impressive network means that Inspire are able to call upon any of these advisors for support on local laws and customers in their home country.

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