Are business cards really important in Japan??
I would like to ask you to how much important are business cards in your country?
In Japan, business cards are really important.
There are even customs and etiquette on how to hand your business card to a client.
*Please do not exchange your business card by holding it with "only one hand" like the image above. You have it to hand to your client with both of your hands. :(
I'm going to share what I learned from my previous boss, and let me share the ideas how we think business card is in Japan.
A Business card is not just a card, but it is something like a copy of yourself.
Have you ever heard of this idea from someone?
I can guess that you might have been surprised at this idea when you heard about it.
Why is it treated so importantly? My boss told that a business card is one of the most important tools for doing business. It is the first item that you pass to your clients.
In Japan, people think that a business card is the first thing which you will hand to a client and when introducing yourself. Your business card shows your name, title, company name, address, and contact information which your client can trust. Your business card will be considered as a representative of you. This will be one of the channels that you can use to start building a bridge with new clients in order to expand your opportunities.
In my experience, also the design of your business card and what information you put on there are important in leaving a good impression on your client.
People don't greet each other by hugging or kissing each other in an office setting.
Instead of touching someone, we exchange business cards. That’s the starting point for a business relationship for most Japanese people. If you don’t bring your business card, then that means you don’t want to establish business relationship with them and it can affect how you are perceived. In other words, you do not see the other person as being someone worth doing business with. That does not leave a very good impression. Please keep this in mind and do not forget to bring your business cards!
In my personal experience, some Japanese men who were over 40’s ( at least they looked like) didn’t exchange their business cards with me but they did with only the men in my team. Some of the over 40’s generation might still think of women as only as "assistants". That’s not true at all these days, so please treat women the same as how you would men. If you do things with and old fashioned way of thinking, you will miss many opportunities because many women are in managerial posiotions. This is a little off topic so maybe I'll talk that about it in another entry. There were times when I thought things like "Ugh that guy was really impolite" then I stopped talking honestly with the man about what we actually wanted them to do in business related affairs."
Opps, let's step back to the topic of business cards.
After exchanging your business card, and only then the first conversation will start.
When you receive a business card from a client, please check the design and the information on there. The design shows their brand image and concept, and you will also find the role of the person on it.
After confirming his/her name and role, Let’s start asking questions one by one to understand each other.
If you are unsure that which questions you should start asking from, hope the next tip will give you some ideas on where to start a business conversation.
Do you have any questions?
Please leave a comment if there is anything you would like to know more!
Wish you can find any tips today!