In order to start my essay I would like to ask you a question: According to you, which is the best way to contact a new company to get the first meeting? I am sure that most of you have thought about the email, a phone call or even a cover letter. No doubt these are the best tools for your first contact if you are planning to start negotiations with Western companies. However, if you want to contact a Japanese company, can you use the same tools?
When you plan to do business with foreign companies it is important to bear in mind cultural differences. When it comes to deal with Japanese businessmen you cannot forget that first of all, they do not think they are doing business. They do believe they are creating long-lasting personal relations. Having said that, if you want to start negotiations with a Japanese company you need to be patient. First you have to cultivate personal relations. Once you have created a personal bond, you will be able to start trade relations. Japanese people need to trust their counterparts and the only way to get this confidence is by means of personal ties.
If you want to start negotiations with Japan, there are several alternatives apart from the traditional email, the phone call or the cover letter. First of all, you can resort to an intermediary. The best intermediary will be ranked in upper positions in the hierarchy and will have a wide experience in the sector related to the potential business. A good intermediary will be a respectable person and trustworthy by both, the Western and the Japanese businessmen. Does the previous description mean that the perfect intermediary will be a Japanese person?
Not at all. Although I have to admit that generally the intermediary will be Japanese. I would like to remind you that Japanese people spend all their lives in creating their own social network. They do business with people, not with companies. They expect to create a long-lasting personal relationship with their counterparts. If you get a cover letter from a good intermediary you will finally fix a date for your first meeting.
There is another option if you cannot resort to an intermediary: Trade Chambers are highly respected by Japanese businessmen. A member of the Trade Chamber specialized in Japan can be a good intermediary for you. Furthermore, if you are a member of a Trade Chamber do not hesitate to let your Japanese counterpart know it. This will help you to success in your negotiations.
Thirdly, the Embassies have people specialized in trade relations. You can resort these people in your Embassy settled in Japan. Do not forget that they will be able to introduce you to the Japanese companies that will fit you the best. The Embassies have economists specialized in boosting trade between their Nationals and people from the foster country. Moreover, I am sure that they will have a lot of contacts in the Japanese society. If you get a cover letter from a highly ranked diplomat Japanese businessmen will be more willing to start negotiations with you.
Finally, when the Japanese company has a subsidiary company in your country you can resort to the local Executive of the Japanese company. Nevertheless, I have to tell you that the process will be pretty much the same. That is, first of all you will have to gain local executive´s trust. He will feel responsible for your behavior and the way you act during negotiations. That is why he will be reluctant to recommend someone. Once again I would like to remind you that when it comes to negotiate with Japanese businessmen you have to think that first of all you are starting a personal relationship. Once you have built strong personal ties and the Japanese counterpart trusts you, it will be the perfect time to start negotiations. This is the key to succeed in your businesses with Japan.