This expedition would be the first ever to this particular planet. The Corporation (and its competitors) had already made contact with alien civilizations in several other systems. This one was a bit further away, but the Corporation had high hopes for it. From what astronomers back home could discern, it was mostly solid, and within the optimum distance from its star -- what you'd call an "Earth-like" planet. The Corporation was eager to get there before its competitors.
First Mate Running Moon was in command as the first contact came in from the rapidly approaching planet. He immediately sent Ensign Smith to go fetch the captain and called for the communications expert. Captain Turning Rock and First Mate Running Moon eagerly awaited the communications expert's opinion.
"Well it's definitely a radio signal composed and sent out by a sentient species" reported Communications Specialist Daring Possum excitedly. The whole bridge crew held their breaths for more. When Daring Possum displayed it on the view screen, however, it was an incomprehensible jumble.
"You, uh, certain that's an intelligent message?" asked the captain.
"Yes certainly. That message is full of mathematical patterns. They're just trying to be clever."
Weeks passed, and as the planet got closer more communications were received and studied by the communications team. At first it was just the random incomprehensible message that had been purposefully transmitted deep into space by the alien civilization, but presently they started to pick up the aliens' own broadcasts to themselves, which the research team carefully analyzed. Once in range of live (well, with significant delays at first) communication with the alien creatures, research could really proceed.
The planet had one sentient species, whose bodies consisted of a central body mass with four clumsy tentacles and a pod held above it which contained most of its sensory organs.
"A peculiar creature indeed!" concluded the Chief Biologist Metal Cloud after presenting his findings, waving an eyestalk to indicate amusement.
After months in orbit around the planet, studying its inhabitants, the officers meet in the conference room to discuss their findings and move into the next state of the mission:
Captain Turning Rock - "So do they have anything of value?"
Chief Geologist Soaring Buffalo - "Sir, they're using it up fast, but I'm pleased to report that they still have fossil fuels!"
Supercargo Shifting Comet - "Yes, that appears to be their most valuable commodity to us, I believe we should arrange to purchase all their remaining fossil fuels before they squander them."
Captain Turning Rock - "What do we have that's of value to them?"
Supercargo Shifting Comet - "As you know, their technology is extremely primitive, and most of them spend a large amount of their time labouring at things which could easily be done by simple robotic trinkets we have. Our onboard manufacturing facilities can easily stamp out enough robotic units to replace millions of their laborers, and they will place a great value on each one as they do not currently have the technology to make a single robot that's effective for anything more than the most simple tasks"
Captain Turning Rock - "Excellent. Trade them only a small handful at first so they give us the highest price per unit."
Supercargo Shifting Comet - "However the great chiefs of the nations that control the largest oil deposits already have enough monetary power that their people will be unimpressed with manual labour saving machines. However they have expressed an extreme interest in weapons technology, as they currently do not have parity with the greatest chiefs of this world. It appears we could easily secure contracts for all their oil simply by providing them with weapons which are ancient to us but will make them pre-eminent military powers on their planet."
Captain Turning Rock - "Excellent. Lest the bigger nation try to also demand weapons, get the robotic-trinkets-for-coal contract with them first"
Several months later, Chief Biologist Metal Cloud updates the officers: "Well, we've successfully eliminated the need for most of the humans to work, but they don't seem to know what to do now! They're all sitting around doing nothing, and no one is distributing food to them. Peculiar, peculiar creatures!" He waves his eyestalk to indicate amusement.
1 All nouns translated from Ixblehtiquian to analogous English equivalents*
2 Most Ixblehtiquian names follow an "adjective noun" naming convention. Names are passed down through generations and sometimes reflect ancient occupations, such as "Smith" or "Wayne."
3 While Ixblehtiquians don't have possums or buffaloes, the actual creatures mentioned in the names there is no English name for, so in this translation similar Earth bound animals were used in their place.
4 While the Ixblehtequians have long ago developed more efficient energy sources than fossil fuels, they still have many uses for this extremely finite and hard to find resource.
*Yes these are fake footnotes not linked in-line, because they're only meant to be read after the rest.
When I originally posited the idea of "what if an advanced race of aliens make contact with us and don't want to kill us but TRADE with us... and thus ruin our economy," a whole slew of people commented back with "no, the prime directive!!"
I think it's pretty silly to assume that for some reason advanced aliens are going to adhere to a guideline from one of our fictional television shows. I think a better guide for how they might behave would probably be to look back at what happened in analogous situations in human history. One doesn't need to go far to see that no "prime directive" seemed to occur to anyone, and discovery of less technologically advanced peoples by explorers invariably resulted in questions of "how can I best exploit these people?" or at best "how can I profit from them?"
See Also: Last Year's First Contact