Our Japanese-German Business Association (DJW) was founded in 1986 as a platform for networking and information exchange between corporates, institutions as well as individuals from Germany and Japan. At those early years, the main activity of DJW was to organize annual symposiums connecting German and Japanese business people. Since then, we have continuously developed our range of services and count about 1,200 members. Still, we see a great potential to convince more economic players to join our network in order to strengthen the business ties between our two countries. We therefore decided to put our offers to the test.
Current Services Portfolio
Currently, DJW offers events, web-based and other information services.
- DJW events and event cooperation: We organize a variety of different events, such as symposiums and seminars, virtual meetings and webinars, intercultural trainings as well as workshops and support the events of our members and partners. Furthermore, we foster “Members for Members” events, which give our corporate members the possibility to promote themselves among each other and put their own topics on the agenda.
- Web services: Our main web-based services include the digital members’ directory, our expert pool, job pool and info pool, which are designed to provide a stage for our members to present their expertise, get in contact with others and search for service providers / producers or staff fitting their respective needs. To gain public exposure, we share all updates via a monthly newsletter and social media (LinkedIn, Facebook and Youtube).
- Other information services: Naturally, for receiving information, there is also the possibility to contact our staff directly via e-mail or phone and to arrange meetings in person. The Head Office of DJW is located in Duesseldorf, our Representative Office is based in Tokyo.
Future Networking Services
To develop our services further in line with the requirements of our (potential) members as well as cooperation possibilities with other players and existing offers, we organized a workshop at our Duesseldorf Office in January this year. Around 15 people followed our invitation to discuss their expectations towards our association. An external moderator joined to guide us through the process.
Thanks to all participants for their valuable input!
As a result, the following points could be noted (please click the PDF file for a more detailed review):
- The uniqueness of DJW lies in its large network and the opportunity to make personal connections to support your own businesses. Furthermore, our participative approach (squad concept) is a distinctive characteristic of DJW as a members’ association (read more about our bottom-up approach here!). It is promising to continue on this path in order to raise the dormant potential of the DJW.
- Generally, among the participants, events are seen as the most important tool to create networking opportunities. There is a wish for more virtual formats, more focused (maybe smaller) events, member exclusive events. We should also try to promote the events of our members and partners even more. This relates very well to current strategy (new approaches like „Executive Lounge“, „digital symposium“, webinars, „Members for Members“ events etc.).
- Many services (e.g. announcement of own events through DJW, presentation at expert pool, info pool) are not very well known – not even to members! There seems to be room for marketing and clearer communication. The newsletter seems to serve as a valuable tool to spread information. Also, social media contribute.
- There is a wish for even more opportunities to get introduced. Personal talks or email exchange with DJW staff are considered as very valuable, but human resources are limited.
The Idea of a „Networking Hub”
As a result, we decided to work on a concept for a so called „networking hub“. The topic had already been discussed with the squad “New Members Japan”, which find it a key factor to take closer care of the needs of candidate companies by being able to connect potential corporate members from Japan with German companies, universities, and research institutions with expert knowledge in specific/key areas. The same would also be of interest for German members reaching out to Japan; and it would especially apply also to startups and job seekers.
Within the framework of its “networking hub”, DJW could act as quasi-agent connecting members and non-commercial partners from both countries by making use of the existing network.
DJW has always been characterized by its lean structures and flexibility. To unlock the full potential of our organization, we introduced “agile” management processes to DJW in 2018. In small, powerful teams (“squads”), we have been working on various topics so far. In contrast to the typical „working groups“, the squads set concrete goals, which they work towards within a predefined timeframe. The teams include fulltime and voluntary team members. Within this framework, hierarchies are set aside.
The new squad „networking hub“ is going to work towards the goal of service optimization. It is not forming the „networking hub“ itself, but helping to design a feasible concept for DJW.
The kick-off meeting for this new squad is going to take place on March 5 (10:00 – 12:00 CET) and will happen virtually via Microsoft Teams. This enables our members from all locations, including Japan, to join. Spoken language will be English, we have again invited the external moderator to join.
Aims of the meeting will be
- to brainstorm on networking possibilities among our existing services as well as possible new offers,
- narrow down the targets for the squad,
- and start developing a concrete concept for the new “networking hub” (objectives / timeframe / resources / communication guidelines).