In our last blog post, we discussed the proper etiquette surrounding business card exchange in the United States. However, these rules do not apply the same way around the world. In fact, Japanese business card etiquette is different than the U.S. in many ways. Because of this, it is important to know the international differences of doing business in order to impress and build successful professional relationships abroad.
These are the key features of Japanese business card etiquette:
Your English business cards will not cut it.
When doing business in Japan, having Japanese business cards is crucial. If you a traveling to Japan for 1 week, it is recommended to bring at least 100 specifically Japanese business cards. You can expect to hand out 3-4 at small meetings and 10-12 at larger business gatherings. Japanese business cards are double-sided and must be printed with one side containing the Japanese language and custom designed to use the same elements as the original English side.
Even if your original business card design is not in English, it is important to adhere to the double-sided English and Japanese layout when conducting business in Japan.
Never throw, flick, or slide your business cards.
There are particular guideline when it comes Japanese business card exchange. Always present your business card by holding it out with both hands and side with Japanese language is facing forward. Make sure it is oriented correctly by placing your company logo at the top to know it is facing the correct way toward a Japanese professional. When handing out your cards, you must address the most senior member of group first by bowing slightly, then continue the same way down the corporate hierarchy.
When receiving another Japanese business card, do so graciously with both hands while saying “Thank you” or “Hajimemashite”.
Do not write notes on any Japanese business card.
In Japan, notebooks are the only place notes should be written down- not a business card. Carry a small notebook wherever you go in case you have to write something down.
Respect Japanese business cards.
It is important to never fidget or play with a Japanese business card. A business card from a Japanese professional must be placed safely in a proper carrying case to show respect. Additionally, Japanese business cards from professionals at any level need to be treated with the same respect. Also, it is a blatant sign of disrespect to forget any of the business cards you receive.
There is an art to Japanese business card etiquette. When done properly, you will be sure to have success in your international business endeavors.