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Japanese Business Cards & Exchange Guide

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Japanese FlagJapanese Business Card Rules
If you plan on visiting with clients in Japan, bilingual English and Japanese business cards are essential. This not only demonstrates a higher level of professionalism for your company, but also shows your potential clients that you are respectful of their culture and traditions.

Brief Introduction
Here in the West, business cards are often looked upon as something of a necessary evil, with little or no thought put into the actual exchange process. This is an entirely different process in Japan. Exchanging Japanese business cards (or meishi in Japanese) is a ritual where certain factors must be acknowledged in order to show esteem for each party.

Japanese Business Card Exchange Checklist
This area was created to give you a checklist of rules to follow when exchanging Japanese business cards:

1. Always Use A Professional for Japanese Business Cards Translation, Typesetting & Printing
This is one of the most important steps, because it takes a bit of preparation before your trip. In the past, this used to be a difficult task to accomplish locally. However, these days, using the Internet you will find agencies that can perform Japanese Business Card Translation for you. Just remember, it’s always best to use a professional company for this service as any errors to delicate items such as the Japanese translation itself or typesetting could sink your meeting before it even begins.

Two-sided (or “Double-sided”) bilingual Japanese business cards are the ideal option. This will allow you to present your cards during the exchange with the Japanese language side up to your clients. This, again, adds extra professionalism during the exchange, and also avoids any clutter of having two languages on the same side.

Ensure that you have an adequate supply of Japanese business cards on-hand. Failing to present your potential client in Japan with a business card at the start of a meeting is the equivalent to refusing to shake hands in the West.

2. Properly Hand Out Your Japanese Business Card
This may sound like a simple task, but there is a very traditional manner in which business cards are exchanged in Japan.

First, be sure that your Japanese business cards are clean, crisp and new. Wrinkled business cards or business cards with handwriting on them are seen as highly unprofessional.

Second, when presenting your Japanese business card, take it out of your case in a specialized manner, (do not simply pull it from a sloppy wallet, etc.) and present it to your client with both hands on the card. It is best if you stand up straight and slightly bow as you present your Japanese business card. In other words, you never want to hastily slide a card across a table as we might do in the West. This is seen as disrespectful in Japan.

Third, when receiving your client’s business card, be sure to show them the same respect. This means it’s best to receive Japanese business cards from your clients with both hands. This is also the ideal time to make a note of something interesting about their business card as a sign that you respect the other party. However, be sure to never address the person you are meeting by their first name. You always want to address them using their last name, followed by “San” (which is “Mr.” or “Ms.” In Japan.) For example, someone named Hideki Matsui would be referred to as Matsui-san, and not simply “Hideki.”

3. Show Respect to The Japanese Business Card You Just Received
Unlike in the West where we may quickly slip a business card we just received into our back pocket, in Japan, take time to observe your client’s business card and do not swiftly put it away. Quickly shoving a business card you just received into your back pocket is incredibly rude in Japan. If this is at the beginning of a meeting, when you sit, place their business card on the table near you in an orderly fashion, and leave it there for the entire meeting. If you are exchanging English and Japanese business cards with someone who will not be present at the meeting, you can graciously put the card away in your briefcase when they have exited the room.

You also want to be sure not to stack business cards you just received. In the eyes of the Japanese, these business cards are small representations of each individual, and each should be observed with honor. Placing them in a thoughtlessly made stack is the equivalent of showing disrespect to those cards on the bottom, etc.

Need More Help Finding Japanese Business Cards?
The guidelines provided in this list should help you be well on your way to a successful business meeting in Japan. For those who may need Japanese business cards, please visit one of our trusted partners in providing dependable Japanese Bilingual Business Cards Translation & Printing.

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