Basic tips if you are visiting Japan on a business trip
In case you are on a business visit here are some tips for making most of any business visit to Japan
1. Carry name card with your Name (preferably in Japanese & English), Contact details (email / tel /address)
2. Carry a 1 to 4 pager company profile (again preferably in Japanese).
3. Company profile should mention the foll:
a. Capital of your company – if we see most websites of Japanese companies, we can see the Company capital is mentioned. This gives an idea of the size of the company.
b. Founding date – Since when your company is operational, gives an idea of the maturity / experience of the firm.
c. Founder or Partner names – Names and titles of Partners or Founders or Executive directors or people in management must be mentioned. Names give again an identity to the company.
d. Services or scope of activities undertaken by the company – this gives an idea as to what all is being done by the company and the client can get an context. If we start with “we can do everything or we are willing to do whatever" then the Japanese counterpart could get confused. Even if you are willing to doing whatever, you can put in the context of some service or some mission that you have listed.
e. No. of employees – This is optional and not mandatory but gives a general idea about the size of your firm. Not many people will judge you based on this pt – so even if you say 6 employees that is not going to give a negative effect.
f. Turnover /Revenue of last year – This is optional and not mandatory. But gives an idea of the scale.
g. Any photo or image of office building / founder / employees if possible – Again not mandatory but shows authenticity
h. Any client names – Again not mandatory but shows authenticity.
3. What you are looking for – Clearly mention that we are looking for CAPITAL investment or TECHNOLOGY or OEM manufacturing where we want the client to put money as well as machinery and we will operate it. (many times people start with the stance that they want Japanese technology and when the client starts talking of technology then they start talking about money).
4. Highlight your value proposition – Eg: "We have existing clients and distribution network for paper products or metal products – which can be leveraged by any Japanese client". "We have experience of handling govt contracts which can be leveraged by our client. Anything is fine here – but if you can explain these as bullet points, then they know exactly what & how an partnership can be done.
5. A namecard and a 1-3 pager brochure in Japanese can get you a very good mileage in your meetings. It will also save time in fruitless discussions.
6. If you are coming with a team, ensure that all members of your team talk the same thing. If all start talking differently, the Japanese team will get confused.
7. Ideally wear formal (necktie – white or blue shirt – blazer ) in all meetings. Though the Japanese might say it is ok or you might feel that this is just a tour visit, but still they will expect formality.
8. While talking, keep your answers to short sentences. Many times we go into deep explanation and many Japanese might not be able to follow long English sentences. It is better to keep responses to the point and in short sentences.
9. Speaking slow can help both. Many times each of us have accents / tones which other person cannot understand clearly. So going slow can help us as well as the client.
10. If you are going for a lunch, you can tell upfront if you are a veg or suggest Italian / Indian food so that you can get some veg. options. If it’s a lunch meeting, restaurants are busy and do not accommodate changes (eg. remove beef from rice or take out fish from pasta), but if it is dinner then the restaurants will accommodate such changes.
11. If you are taken to a karaoke bar, they will expect you to sing. It is better if you practice songs such as “Yesterday” – Beatles or “My way – Frank Sinatra” or some such song that is formal – silent and presents a good image. Plus it makes the host happy that you liked the overall program. If you are not singing, then they too cannot sing and it will be a fiasco or you will be bored.
12. After you return back to India, constant follow-ups, updates will help you keep in touch with the prospect. This is also important as your prospect could be checking on your persistence, how you overcome communication problems, how you maintain relationship despite no work from them.
There is no set rule as such - but hopefully these few points could help you bit in your business visits to Japan. Wishing you all the best.