While technology has revolutionized business, it hasn’t made the business card obsolete. They remain a staple marketing tool. Business card etiquette goes through phases just like other social norms. Here are a few of the modern rules of business card etiquette, no matter what business you’re in or where you live.
Be Strategic When Offering Business Cards
Walking into a room and handing business cards to everyone is the social equivalent to spamming. You aren’t just wasting business cards on unrelated people, but you’re making yourself appear self-centered. Wait until the appropriate time to hand out business cards and give them to those who are interested or in the right position to make use of the information. Never hand out business cards at the wrong kind of events. For example, you’ll offend people if you pass out business cards at a wedding or funeral. However, there is no problem with putting a business card in the gift basket you send to the couple.
Be Careful with Social Norms when Designing Cards
Custom business cards can help you stand out from the crowd, but you’ll undermine your image if you make mistakes. Don’t use bright, bold, hard-to-read text. Don’t have so many images on the card that it is difficult to read. Don’t make the business card so large that it doesn’t fit in someone’s wallet or carrying case. Don’t put five social media profile links on the business card and leave off key information such as your name, address, phone number, and email. And don’t forget to tell them why they may want to keep the card, whether it is listing the services you provide or the items you sell.
Treat Business Cards the Way You’d Treat the Person
In much of the world, the business card is considered an extension of the person. Show up without business cards to exchange with each other, and you’ve committed a social faux pas. Don’t give out a dirty, dog-eared or smudged business card. That suggests you don’t respect the other person. Don’t show the business card in your wallet or pocket. That’s considered disrespectful. Carefully put the business card in a protective case.
Know the Rules for Multi-Lingual Business Cards
You’ll stand out from the crowd if you understand the rules for multi-lingual business cards and have them on hand for your clients and guests. A common solution is to have one side of the business card in English and the other side in the other party’s language. Even in countries like Korea and Japan where many people speak English, presenting a bilingual business card is considered a mark of respect. Hold the translated side toward the person when you give it to them so that they can read it.
International etiquette means going through the respectful rituals when distributing business cards. Don’t just throw them out on the table, leave them in a stack on the center of the table or rapidly hand them out to everyone. Exchange the business cards one at a time with each person. Hold them with both hands if possible, and take the time to read it. This is seen as respectful to the person who just gave it to you. Don’t write comments on the business card while they are present, because that’s considered disrespectful. If you need to write on something, write on one of your own business cards. However, it will always look bad if you have to write your new phone number or address on the business card instead of giving out business cards with the correct information already printed on them. Verify that the cards are clean and perfectly shaped before you distribute them.