DJW was founded as a platform for networking and information exchange between corporates, institutions as well as individuals from Germany and Japan. The "Networking Services" squad has been brought into life to put our offers to the test to help designing a future service portfolio.
The following interview was conducted with Elisa Ono, in charge for Member Relations at DJW.
1. Please tell us something about yourself and how you are connected to DJW.
I passed a commercial apprenticeship (CCI Certificate) and studied East Asian Studies and Japanese Studies. I joined DJW in 2015, initially took over member accounting and am now responsible for all relevant issues relating to DJW membership. In 2017 I was also significantly involved in the coordination of the website relaunch, which is why I am now also responsible for all web services such as member directory, expert pool, job pool and info pool, user questions as well as other concerns around the DJW homepage. Beyond that I am also responsible for the technical side of the DJW newsletter. Therefore, it is obvious that I have also been involved in the "Networking Services" squad.
2. What are the goals of the squad “Networking Services”?
We want our members to be satisfied and to stay with DJW for as long as possible. At the same time, of course, we also want our number of members and our network to grow steadily, especially in Japan. Of course, when creating our services, we also must consider the new possibilities in the course of increasing digitalization. Accordingly, the DJW must remain attractive for its existing members and become attractive for future members. Nevertheless, everyone should benefit from our services at the same time, which is of course a challenge!
3. From your point of view, what are the biggest challenges?
The advantage of our association is its diversity. We draw from a heterogeneous circle of around 1,200 members from Germany, Japan, but also from other member states of the EU, America or Asia: companies, institutions, freelancers / sole proprietors, students and other private individuals who shape and enrich our association. But heterogeneity is also what makes it difficult to measure services. At the same time, limited resources and manpower as well as the requirements for non-profit associations in Germany prevent us from offering certain services that may be desired. For example, we cannot provide individual advice or even job or candidate placements, either professionally or legally in the sense of non-profit status. Despite increased demand, we can and above all want to refer such inquiries to experts from our members (please visit our expert pool).
However, we are trying to find compromises. For example, we offer our job pool so that our institutional and corporate members can post their job offers on our DJW homepage as well as via social media and our monthly newsletter.
We know, of course, that we can never please everyone, but it is our ambition to satisfy as many people as possible with our services.
4. Why do you think the topic is important for DJW?
In order to achieve our great goal, the promotion of German-Japanese economic relations, we need ways and means. We have adopted the slogan "Networking - Information - Business" and in order to achieve the latter we must fulfil the first two as well as possible and align our services accordingly.
Events and Job Pool – our drawing cards
I think that, measured by our manpower as a non-profit association, we already offer good services, which are also largely used by our members. The free participation in our numerous events in Germany and Japan is certainly a drawing card and the basis for successful networking. In order to be able to link Japan and Germany even better, however, appropriate event formats are needed which - due to the large geographical distance - are increasingly taking place virtually. Webinars or the already successfully running simultaneous "Germany-Japan Startups Platform" are the first movements in this direction.
But also, the already mentioned free placement of job advertisements in the job pool is a popular tool of the website. Since the relaunch, our institutional and corporate members have been able to create any number of job offers themselves at any time via a login on the website. We are currently working on making them even more flexible.
Expert Pool and Info Pool – our hidden Services
However, in my everyday work at DJW I always notice that some services are not or only insufficiently used by our members, although they seem potentially interesting to me. Especially the expert pool.
With this web tool every visitor of the website can search for service providers and manufacturers in the German-Japanese economic environment, either sector-specific or locally. Our members can create their own multilingual profile for the expert pool free of charge at any time via the member area of our website. By using a logo which is subject to a fee (except for supporting members), you can also present yourself more prominently. Whenever we receive inquiries from interested parties, I refer to our expert pool. Unfortunately, not all members are listed in it, in case of doubt I must ask if we can publish contact data or if we can only name companies / institutes. This extends our information paths, and, in case of doubt, freelance members cannot be considered, because their contact details are primarily subject to data protection.
I understand if for time reasons not every member can make the registration himself, I am happy to do that in this case. By the way, we have recently been able to add sectors - anyone who does not find appropriate sectors in the previous selection is welcome to let us know and we will then expand the entries.
Our info pool is another tool to present yourself and your expertise. What better way to promote yourself or the services of your company than by writing a professional article? Unfortunately, too few members use this offer so far. In our monthly newsletter (with which we reach not only our 1,200 members, but also around 5,000 contacts) we highlight the articles of our members even more prominently.In addition, we link within the articles to the expert pool entries of our members, so that both pools complement each other accordingly. It would be great if more members could use this service and thus enrich our association even more regarding our slogan ‘Information’.
Maybe there are even ‘hidden services’ for DJW, which are so hidden, we could not imagine them ourselves? I hope in this case for the active participation and suggestions of our members!
5. What measures are planned to reach the goals and where does the squad need support or helping hands?
Without our members and contacts the "Networking Services" squad actually would not exist. We therefore need the opinions and suggestions of our members. To quote Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: „Mit einem kritischen Freund an der Seite kommt man immer schneller vom Fleck.“ - ‚You are getting off the ground faster with a critical friend‘.
We will therefore hold a kick-off workshop at the DJW office on Januar 24, 2020 and cordially invite you to join us! Of course, a virtual participation via Microsoft Teams is also possible!
To prepare the workshop we also created a questionnaire and would be very happy if as many members and contacts of the DJW as possible could fill it out and send it back to us! Of course, we will also consider all ideas that reached us via e-mail, fax or post!
6. Do you have any message for other DJW members?
Many thanks for the great cooperation so far, I am looking forward to feedback and suggestions and hopefully even more use of our services! Stay with us – WE are DJW!