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Japan: The All Important Business Card

By Josian Phillips, 

In Japan the business card is paramount. Unlike in Britain where we exchange business cards as a simple contact medium, the exchanging of business cards in Japan, or with a Japanese person is virtually ritualistic. Always have plenty to give out. And take heed of the following:

  1. Double sided English and Japanese business cards should be used.
  2. Always present the card with both hands, Japanese-language side forward to the most senior member of the Japanese first, bowing slightly and then move on down the corporate ladder.
  3. Do not slide the card across the table.
  4. Accept a Japanese business card with the same manner.
  5. When presented with a business card always say thank you (I know it sounds patronising, but honestly you’ll thank me) – in Japanese if possible (Hajimemashite), study the card carefully. Do not put it away immediately.
  6. Never ever write notes on a Japanese business card.
  7. Never fiddle or play with a Japanese business card.
  8. Treat the cards with respect and keep them in a special case.
  9. Forgetting to pick up a business card after a meeting would be akin to a slapping that person in the face.
  10. Many Japanese stay life-long in their company, a junior employee today, could well be a senior executive tomorrow, treat every card with the same respect.

Further reading:

Japanese business etiquette

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