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The Etiquette Of Exchanging Business Cards

Tips for getting the maximum benefit from your business cards

One of the basic conditions of being a successful businessman is to get your customers (or prospective customers) to like you, and a very basic requirement for being liked is using proper business etiquette.

We all like to deal with well-cultured people, and etiquette is one of the most important components of any culture.

Understanding and using proper business etiquette helps you to deal confidently with your customers and business acquaintances and build up a good rapport in no time.

The breadth of business etiquette is huge and beyond the scope of this article, but we can certainly discuss one very common but extremely important business etiquette issue that businessmen often encounter: exchanging business cards.

In most countries, business cards are used to exchange contact information and other necessary personal info about your prospective business partner, but much depends on how the business card is handed over or the way the receiver treats it once it has been received.

Some countries have an accepted method of exchanging business cards, but the general etiquette of business card exchange that is followed all over the world can be summarized with the following points:

  1. Always have your business cards printed on high-quality business card stock, and have them professionally designed. A business card isn't simply a piece of paper listing your contact information - itís also a branding tool for your company.
  2. Business cards are an internationally accepted method of providing the pertinent personal and contact details to your business partners. When attending a business meeting or social gathering, be sure to take along a sufficient number of business cards to hand out to everyone you can.
  3. If possible, hand out your business cards either at the beginning or the end of the meeting.
  4. Every time you receive someone's business card, make it a point to study the card and comment on it. If you have any questions, always clear them up before putting the card in your pocket. This shows that you recognize the importance of the person who gave the business card to you.
  5. If you're traveling to a foreign country where English isn't the primary language of business, try to get the reverse of your business card printed in the local language. You should also hand the card to someone with the foreign language text on top.
  6. Don't attempt to thrust your business card upon someone with whom you are hardly acquainted. Business cards should be exchanged only after both parties have expressed a desire to be in contact with one another.
  7. It's often helpful to add a tag line or mention the USP of your business on your business cards, but refrain from making it into a mini-billboard.
Other than the general etiquette of business card exchange as described above, there are some rules of etiquette that are specific to certain countries, especially Japan and China:
  • In Japan, business cards should be received with both hands, but they can be offered with just one. They are to be treated with the same respect as that you would give to the actual person. The card should mention the person's title as much emphasis is given to status and hierarchy in that country.
  • In China, it is customary to hold the business card in both hands while handing it to someone, and you should never write on someoneís card unless you're asked to do so.

    It is also customary in China to mention your title on the business card, and it is best if you have one side of the card printed in Chinese with gold letters since gold is considered to be an auspicious color there.

Business cards are one of the most powerful marketing tools available to you and your company. If you know how to use them to their full advantage, you can rest assured that they will give back many times what you have invested to have them professionally designed and printed.

About the Author:

Ray Smith is a marketing expert with years of experience in different industries and specialized knowledge on branding and internet marketing. Visit him at www.mycorporatelogo.com.

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