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Business Card Etiquette - The Correct Way to Present Your Business Card

Updated on June 25, 2020
Cyndi10 profile image

The former executive director of a successful nonprofit agency now content specialist, Cynthia writes about a variety of researched topics.

Business cards have an etiquette to presentation.
Business cards have an etiquette to presentation. | Source

Relationships are crucial to business and if you are in business, you have (or should have) business cards because of the role they play in helping to build those relationships, but there is a right way and a wrong way to handing someone your business card. It seems there is etiquette - standard rules to follow - for nearly everything we do and it's important to understand that there is an etiquette to handing out business cards, too.

While there are ways to use technology to store business information, even exchange "cards" of potential customers, collegues and peers, technology has made little difference to that intimate act of physically handing someone a business card.

Nearly everyone who wants to promote their business has a business card; there are few exceptions. In fact, nearly 27 million business cards are printed daily which amounts to just under 10,000,000,000 a year. That's because business cards are important to the legitimacy and credibility of a businss. A business card says that you are invested in your business. That average investment in the US is $194.00 but a business card can cost as much as $1,500 per card. That particular$1,500.00 businss card is called the Black Astrum Signature Card and is made of Swiss metal studded in 30 carats worth of diamonds. Quite an investment.

To put business cards in their historical perspective, here are a few facts. Business cards were initially called calling cards and were first used a few hundred years ago in China royal houses. The West caught onto 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, enterprising merchants and businessmen saw the business card as an opportunity to advertise their business.


Hand Out Business Cards the Correct Way

Today, that small 3.5” x 2” standard sized 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 and it comes in a variety of sizes. It is interesting fact and certainly inevitable, that over their four centuries of use, the business card has developed an etiquette to handing them out, particularly in Asian countries. 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. Being mindful can't hurt and it certainly won't hinder business acumen.

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. Cards to today come in a myriad of sizes and designs. Be sure the design reflects your business. Visit sites like or read the article at Canva to get an idea of designs that are available.
  • Purchase the best quality card that you can afford. You don't want to give the impression that you are cheap. The card, whether the receiver keeps it or tosses it, will leave a lasting impression and, the cheap card often goes in the trash first.
  • 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 and even make a polite comment, that is, 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. Your cards can be expensive, depending on your design and you also don't want to give a card to someone who will have no intent of ever using your business. Use your best judgment here.
  • 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 to give the receiver your card.
  • Don't write on your business card in the presence of the the owner. This is considered disrespectful in some Asian cultures.

As you can see, like many other activities in life, there is corresponding etiquette - a right and wrong way to handle that little card. Using a little business card etiquette can make you look more polish and ready to handle business. It can also help you avoid insulting someone from another culture. You invested in the best design, use your business card effectively and correctly when handing them out.

Business cards should be used strategically as part of your brand.
Business cards should be used strategically as part of your brand.

© 2016 Cynthia B Turner


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