Doing business with Japan

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Relationships and Japanese Business

People often tell me that in order to do business in Japan, relationships are very important. Yes, it is very important but it is so everywhere you conduct business in the world. Japanese people are not that different from Americans or any other westerns. You do not do business with anyone you do not know well, do you?

I think the truth is that most Japanese people (not all of course) are not exposed to non-Japanese very much. On top of it, most of them do not feel comfortable with speaking in English (or any other languages). So if you try to reach and touch some Japanese companies without an introduction or some contacts, you will be not very successful. But wait....This is exactly like America. I often help my clients make contacts for business development or sales. But without a proper introduction or connection, I am ignored. This is very much so in dealing with VCs. But nobody says in conducting business in US, relationships are very important.

I sometimes think Japanese have inferiority complex in their language (It is not English). After Japan's defeat in WW-II, General Macarthur wanted to abolish the Japanese language and replace it with English since he thought Japanese people spent too much time in learning such a complex language and did not have time to understand what was going on, leading to the war. If that was the case, it could have been pretty interesting......

Here's an idea for you to be successful in dealing with Japanese businessmen. Learn conversational Japanese!! It is not possible to master the language in a short time but you could master some words and expressions. Once you do this and go to bars with your business associates, you have established a solid RELATIONSHIP!!



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