Business Card Etiquette
I often see raised eyebrows when the subject of Business Card Etiquette is mentioned – surely there is no etiquette involved in such a simple process – you simply hand them out and collect them in ?.If you are working under this assumption then you may be severely limiting the usefulness of your business card.
There are several golden rules involved in Business Card Etiquette, these include:
- Do not use a scattergun approach –only give out your card when someone asks for it.
- Do not hoard others cards – Only ask for cards if you intend to follow up or think you may have a requirement for the services being offered.
- Make sure you follow up on the exchange of cards – a business card in itself is only a means to an end
- Be aware of cultural differences – I will return to this later
- Keep well stocked – a business card left back in the office / home is useless
- Care for your cards – handing out damaged, folded or dirty cards does not create a good impression
- Care for the cards of others – store them carefully, do not deface them and generally treat then as if they were items of value to you
- Only give out one card per person – giving more creates an impression that you expect them to distribute them on your behalf
- Orientate your card correctly so that the receiver can immediately read it without having to
As mentioned above there are also some regional specific rules that apply to business card etiquette, these include:
- When in china use gold ink, make sure your card has been translated into Chinese (in the appropriate dialect) and offer your card with both hands. Never write on the business card unless directly asked to.
- When in India make sure you include your degree or any other honours on your card, there is no need to translate your card but you should always offer your card with your right hand.
- When in Japan make sure your cards are kept in excellent condition, always include your title, when receiving a card always take it with both hands (although you are free to give them with just one hand). You should try and distribute your cards in order of seniority, at the end of the meeting carefully store the cards you have been given in a suitable card case or holder.
As you can see there are many elements to business card etiquette (and the above lists are by no means exhaustive) but with a little care and fore thought most of the obvious pitfalls can be avoided.