• Shiori W

How to Exchange Business Cards in Japan and Online Business Card Exchange Services.

In Japan, when meeting a client for the first time, it is important to exchange business cards rather than LinkedIn IDs or phone numbers.

Even though more and more people are trying to work remotely, exchanging business cards still remains a required Japanese business custom. New hires at a company are, generally, taught how to exchange business cards at their first training session. More senior employees are expected to know all the nuances and practices for exchanging business cards. The exact details of what is expected when exchanging business cards can differ based on the company and the industry.

Let’s take a look at the basics of exchanging business cards.

What to Prepare

A business card holder

Business cards

Please make sure that your business card holder is out, and the cards inside are easily accessible.

9 basic points for exchanging business cards

1. Stand in front of the other person with your business card out and place it on your card holder.

2. Your business card should face the other person so that it is readable from their position. Clients should be able to read the business card without needing to rotate or turn it.

3. Bow slightly as you say your name and present your business card.

4. Use two hands to pass your business card to the client, and when receiving the another person's card.

5. * Be sure to use both your hands during the exchange.

When it comes to exchanging the cards continue holding your card with both hands until it comes time to take your client’s card.

They will extend one hand to take yours and at the same time extend your hand to take theirs while still holding your business card in your other hand. Once the cards have been received by both parties, be sure to hold their business card with both hands.

6. Check the client’s business card that you have just received and confirm how to read the client’s name since kanji usually has multiple ways it can be read.

7. Put the received business cards on your card holder and place it on the table in front of you while in a meeting. It is common practice to line the business cards up on the table in the seating order so that it is easy to remember names.

8. Do not take notes on the client’s business card.

9. Do not put their cards into your pant pockets.

If one would like to know more the details clearly, please check the youtube video below. It is easy to check from the part on 0:47.

Sansan : Online meeting tool with Online-business cards exchange / management tool.

Online meetings are gaining popularity in Japan in the IT industry and among people in sales positions. Because of this trend people have become concerned with how they can introduce themselves without exchanging business cards.

Sansan is a company that provides a unique CRM (Customer Relationship Management) service that allows people to exchange business cards online and store that information in the cloud.


Over 6,000 companies and city offices use Sansan to manage their client information gained from business cards exchanged between employees and clients.

Before this service was available, it was common to not be sure who the client exchanged cards with or what their connection to the company was. People are often shifted around or move to different locations so it can be difficult to remember who the contact person was for a certain client. It is difficult to organize all the information regarding business card exchanges when it is done using physical cards.

E-business card management services like those provided by Sansan make exchanging business cards online possible and makes sharing the information with others in the office easier.

Sansan’s websites shows that Sansan users can exchange business cards through a URL link sent to each other. Business cards can be exchanged between Sansan users and non-users by sending a URL link and a QR code.


Japanese people prefer to make professional introductions through business cards and in person.

Having a business card makes one seem more professional and makes the introduction seem more official.

Services like Sansan make it possible to continue the practice of exchanging business cards even if people cannot meet in person.

Business cards are an ingrained part of Japanese business culture so I personally recommend using a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) service like Sansan in addition to other services like Salesforce in Japan, to localize your business idea and organize your customer relationship easier.

With the coronavirus affecting work environments, companies have been changing the workplace and how people work in order to adapt to a “new normal” and keep business moving. The Japanese government gathered experts and announced a set of guidelines for a “new lifestyle” in response to concerns about the virus. On that list, the government says that “people should exchange business cards online”. Despite the new guidelines, the number of companies allowing employees to telework differ greatly from place to place. There is a large gap between the number of companies using telework in Tokyo and the number of companies allowing it in other areas of Japan.


In 2020, Kaonavi HR Technology Labs surveyed 9,721 people in Japan from the ages 20 to 60 who had a job from May 1st to May 7th. According to the survey 52.2% of people in the Tokyo Metropolitan area had experienced working remotely while less than 30% of people in Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku, and Chugoku reported having teleworked before.

Depending on the area, the “new normal” for work may take more time to be adopted. Learning how to exchange business cards, both, face to face and online may help you in Japan.


How were today’s tips? I hope you learned something new!

See you next time!