Networking is my trade – it’s my skill, yet the Japanese gave me some serious food for thought on a recent trip to Tokyo and since returning, I am a changed networker.
I visited Tokyo on study tour and conducted a series of business meetings with some awesome Japanese professionals from many walks of life, and I cannot help but admire how they go about doing business. The meaning of ‘long-term relationships’ is taken to another level – silence is a sign of superiority and respect is paramount. Business is not done in Japan until at least 6-8 meetings are conducted and trust has been built. Even the way the Japanese date and choose their spouse is far from transactional.
My experiences in Japan have changed the way I network and coach others to network/connect with people. It’s taught me to be more patient, talk less and avoid cold approaches at all costs.
My key take outs are below:
- Cold approaches will not be well received – response will only come if you approach via an introduction.
- Long term business relationships are the only kind that are welcome – the time, care and consideration this requires is enormous, however highly rewarding.
- Silence shows superiority – it is not uncommon to attend lengthy meetings and say nothing.
- Generosity occurs often and well received – whether this is in the form of tangible gifts or gestures of kindness.
- Lowering customer’s expectations and over-delivering is the only way to operate – being direct and saying “no” is not a common trait.
- Facebook is preferred over LinkedIn and a more popular choice for staying in touch with business contacts – One of the high-profile CEO’s I met didn’t have a profile on LinkedIn so I requested his friendship on Facebook – unfortunately I realised there is a limit of 5,000 friends on Facebook, so I am following him instead (amongst 15,000 other people!).
Whether you like or dislike networking, the odds are you probably need to do more of it! The Japanese culture is one of long-term relationships which are based on listening and learning more than talking and telling. It’s one which requires patience, respect and nurture. It’s one that we can all learn from.
By learning from different cultures, I believe we can make our networking more effective, with greater results. My next networking stop is Fiji – I am excited to learn how they do business in their beautiful country.
Victoria Butt is the Managing Director and Founder of Parity Consulting which is one of Australia’s leading Product, Marketing, Communications and Digital Recruitment Organisations. Parity is known for injecting 10% of their annual profits back into value-add initiatives within the Product, Marketing, Communications and Digital communities. She is also a wife, mother, networker, blogger, shark diver and wine lover.