Social Networking and the Power of Guanxi


Brandon and I are seriously considering moving back down South. Both of us can work virtually, giving us the freedom to go anywhere in the world and still get paid. The warmer weather, lower cost of living, and proximity to family and friends make the decision a no-brainer, at least on paper, but we decided to test it out first. We love Lambertville, and want to be 100% confident in our decision if we relocate again.

Enter Tim Ferriss and his mini-retirements, a variation on the theme anyway. Our test takes us to Durham, NC rather than Buenos Aires, and we will be working while we’re there. For me, the test is the important part.

I started looking for an apartment to sublet on Craig’s List, and wasn’t having much luck; so I broadened my search using my personal Facebook page. A friend that works at UNC Kenan-Flagler recommended I ask a student to post a listing on the student message boards for me. I did, and she did. I got multiple responses, including one from a woman that wasn’t leaving Durham for the summer, but lives in the neighborhood we’re interested in. She asked if I wanted her to post our listing using her community email chain. I did, and she did. Again, I got multiple responses, including one from a woman that was subletting a house in Durham and vacating it at just the time we wanted to arrive! It was perfect, and the place is ours for the month.

As I think about this story, I can literally visualize the connections between people leading me exactly where I wanted to go. It makes me think about the Chinese concept of Guanxi where people accomplish things through favors from their network. Is this how Guanxi works, or are the relationships I described too far removed? Is social networking a manifestation of a centuries old practice of Chinese culture? Fascinating stuff, especially for future Marketing MBAs. Please let me know what you think in the comments.

Author: Grayson Leverenz

Grayson Leverenz founded MBA in the USA® to help international students build networks, find jobs, and have fun in the USA. Hundreds of global professionals have benefited from Grayson’s intercultural workshops, and she has worked with people from Brazil, China, India, South Africa, South Korea, the UK, and the USA to build effective virtual teams and craft brilliant careers.

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