Business Card Etiquette - It Does Exist
It seems there is etiquette - standard rules to follow - for nearly everything we do. The exchange of business cards is no exception.
If you are in business you have business cards. Nearly everyone does; there are few exceptions. Technology has made little difference in the act of handing someone a business card.
To put business cards in their historical perspective, business cards were initially called calling cards and were first used a few hundred years go in China. The West caught on to the act of leaving calling cards at the home of the royals and their court around the 17th Century. At the same time that the aristocracy were actively leaving their calling cards about town, the merchants and businessmen saw the business card as a means to advertise their business.
Hand Out Business Cards the Correct Way
Today, that small 3.5” x 2” card is just as valuable a tool as it was in the 17th Century, although it is now just one of the tools in an of arsenal of tools used to promote your business. What is interesting is that over four centuries of use, the card has developed an etiquette, particularly in Asian countries. In other words, given that we are a global economy, we should be mindful of the proper way to handle business cards so that we don’t inadvertently offend someone and possibly even jeopardize negotiations.
The following are a few tips regarding business card etiquette to keep in mind the next time you attend a conference or meet someone:
- Your card design should make a statement your business and should have a minimum of, your name the business and a way to contact you.
- Purchase the best quality card that you can afford.
- Store your cards in a well designed “statement,” card holder. Like your business cards, your holder is a reflection of you and your business. In addition, when you neatly store your cards, you avoid fumbling for them when the time comes to present it.
- When you first receive a card from a colleague, show some interest in the design unless you are exchanging cards with a Korean. Koreans consider it impolite to study the card at the moment you receive it.
- It is rude and pushy to interrupt a going conversation in order to present someone your business card - in any culture!
- Be selective in passing out your cards.
- When handing someone your card, hand it to the receiver with the business information showing face up. Use one hand to present your card unless you are in Japan or Korea where you use both hands.
As you can see, like nearly any other ritual in life, there is corresponding etiquette - a right and wrong way to handle that little card. The business card is no different. You purchased them, use them effectively and correctly.