The Japanese take their business very serious and follow a strict etiquette and protocol when it comes to doing business. Personal relationships are the most important aspect when doing business in Japan. The Japanese will not do business with anyone until they get to know them on a personal level. They want to know your whole history, both personally and professionally, so they can create an image for themselves about who you really are. It typically takes several meetings and dinners until doing business with someone is even talked about. Personal referrals, from people they already know or whom they are already in business with, are extremely helpful. A good way to help/maintain a personal relationship with a Japanese business partner is to send them seasonal greeting cards and maybe include a picture of your family.
The second most important thing aspect is business meeting etiquette. Appointments are required and business meetings must be scheduled weeks ahead of time. Punctuality is key and you should always arrive on time or earlier. When dressing for a business meeting, make sure to dress in a business professional manner. Men are expected to wear dark colored conservative suits either black, blue, or grey. Women are expected to dress conservatively. The Japanese are a group society and as such, business meetings are typically in a group setting. One on one meetings are extremely rare. Be aware of who is sitting where because the most senior person will be seated furthest from the door and everyone will follow in descending order so the most junior person will be closest to the door. Bring a detailed presentation which includes your company’s history and client’s testimonies and referrals. The Japanese prefer to see things in writing so make sure your presentation is organized into a packet so they can follow along, and make sure to have a contract written out. Written contracts are required. While presenting you may notice that some people may have...
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