A while back we talked about the importance of the business card in the digital world of today. We discussed that even in the digital world of today the business card prospers in corporate business circles and is highly valued.
A business card exchange is almost ceremonious in most countries and has its own set of etiquettes. While the business card is important in all business circles, some cultures place great importance not just on the card but on how it is used. You should be well aware of the general business card etiquettes and even some of the norms that are confined to Asian countries and the like, but important nonetheless.
Do not treat the business card like a promotional flyer
The business card is a subtle way to market yourself, but remember the key word here is “subtle”. In no way should you treat the business card as a flyer.
Keep your business card to yourself until you are asked for your contact info. The business card is mainly used for networking, thus it is given to select individuals. Also when asked for your business card by someone, capitalize on that opportunity. If possible write a note on the back on the card, as a reminder of what you were talking about that led to an exchange of contact information. This will lead to your card standing out when they are going through the business cards they have.
Always have business cards on hand, and in good condition
The excuse that you have forgotten or run out of business cards shows you in a negative light. People will judge you as being unprofessional. Ensure that you are always carrying sufficient business cards and carrying them carefully. A business card is like a billboard that is representing you. A crumpled business card sends a very bad impression. Get a proper case for business cards, in order to ensure that they remain in mint condition.
If you are carrying business cards in sufficient quantity and that too of mint quality that ticks two important boxes. One more thing that is often forgotten is that no one likes someone going through all of their pockets and then briefcase just to find something. It makes you look like a forgetful and thus unreliable person. Ensure that your business cards are easily accessible and in a place that you will always remember.
Handing over and accepting business cards is an art
While in North America and even some European countries like Europe the business card is used a formal tool for communication information exchange, some cultures like that of Japan, Switzerland, China and Singapore treat the exchange of business cards very formally.
One habit that you should make is to always distribute the business card with your right hand. Many cultures put emphasis on receiving things of value from the right hand, and it is considered downright rude to put forward your left hand. This applies very strongly in India and the Middle East.
Second, whenever you receive a business card, do not accept and put it in your card case. Take a moment and scan through it. This shows that you are giving due respect to the other person. This is not something prevalent in North America, but Japanese, Swiss and the Chinese value such actions highly.
While the article above covers many important aspects of the business card exchange etiquette, it is not enough. What is required for true success is homework. Before you venture into new lands, always research about the norms existing there. In our environment today information flows with an ease that could not have been imagined 50 years ago, thus ignorance is not tolerated.