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Japanese Business Card Etiquette: What You Need to Know – SilkCards

Exchanging business cards is an extremely important part of the strict Japanese business etiquette, just like in the US. In Japan, business cards are usually seen as an extension of their owner; they are never considered mere tools that a business may rely on to attract new clients or reinforce their connection with existing ones. Knowing the ins and outs of Japanese business card etiquette can help you start off on the right foot and make a lasting first impression.


Exchanging Business Cards Is an Important Ritual Governed by Strict Rules

In the U.S., handing a business card to a potential client is a normal gesture that isn’t always preceded by complicated formalities. In Japan, things are very different. Every detail counts, including the way in which you hand out your business card and the moment that you should choose to present your card. Cards are presented based on one’s rank; the person with the highest rank should be the last one to offer his business card to his interlocutors. Also, out of respect, the Japanese take their time to read and learn by heart all the relevant information displayed by the business card that they’ve just received; they also expect all recipients to do the same.


Common Mistakes That One Should Avoid while Exchanging Business Cards

The Japanese card exchange etiquette is based on a series of basic, common sense rules that could be applied anywhere in the world by anyone to show respect for the people you meet and their work. Here are a few don’ts that you should avoid while exchanging cards with someone in Japan and basically anywhere else in the world if you truly care about your image.

  • Do not stuff the card that you’ve just received in your pocket or in your wallet. This gesture is considered very rude; instead, gently place it inside your card holder.
  • Don’t use the card as your new post-it. In other words, don’t write down any type of information or doodle on the back of a business card that was handed to you.
  • Don’t deposit a set of business cards from your pockets. Keep these handy advertising tools in an elegant card holder/case to avoid creasing or staining.
  • Don’t attend a meeting without making sure that you have the right number of business cards with you. Make sure you could never run out of business cards on your upcoming trip. To avoid this embarrassing rookie mistake, take at least 50 business cards with you for every big meeting that you will have to attend.


Tips to Apply to Avoid Breaking the Rules of the Japanese Business Etiquette

If you’re planning on a business trip to Japan, it’s also important to know a little bit about Japanese business etiquette as well. Here are some general tips to keep in mind throughout your dealings there.

Focus on Maintaining Surface Harmony. The Japanese value surface harmony a great deal; this is why they never raise objections or start a dispute during meetings. Open confrontations are interpreted as a form of Western misdemeanor. Generally speaking, the attitude of Japanese businessmen and employees is influenced a great deal by their sense of commitment towards the company that they work for.

Put the Success of Your Company over Your Personal Interests. Moreover, the interests of the social circle and the cooperation that they are a part of are more important than their own; this is why individual initiative is considered a rare bird.

Invest in Tasteful, Effective Business Card Design. Judging from this perspective, by opting for an elegant, cohesive business card design, the Japanese show their respect for their interlocutors and the brand or firm that they are representing. If you share the same opinion, choose to enhance the appeal and effectiveness of your business cards by opting for a truly creative template introduced by