Visiting card Exchange

Here are ten basic rules to follow for the profitable and productive exchange of business cards.

  • Never leave your home or office without your cards and plenty of them.  There is nothing more unprofessional than the business person who has to say, “Oh, I’m sorry. I just gave out my last card.” or ” I’m sorry. I didn’t bring any with me.”
  • Keep your cards in a business card case or in something that protects them from wear and tear.  A crumpled business card makes a poor first impression.
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  • Know where your business cards are at all times.  The person who has to go through every jacket and pants pocket or every nook and cranny of a briefcase to find those business cards loses credibility immediately.
  • Hand them out with discretion. Those people who believe in doling them out in multiples of 12 send a message that their cards aren’t worth much.
  • Give and receive cards with your right hand–the hand of discretion.  This can make a big difference when doing business internationally.
  • Give the card so the person who is receiving it can read it without having to turn it around.
  • Always make a comment about a card when you receive it. Note the logo, the business name or some other piece of information.  This places value on the card.
  • Keep your business cards up to date.  When any of your contact information changes; run, don’t walk, to your nearest printer for new cards. It is substandard business etiquette to hand out cards on which you have crossed off an old phone number and written in the new one.
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  • Don’t write notes to yourself on someone else’s business card during the exchange unless they appear relevant.  For example, if someone asks me to send a copy of my book, Manners That Sell, it makes perfect sense to write “Send book” on the back of that card. However, that would not be the time to write “good lead to ABC organization” on the card. I do that later and out of sight.
  • Avoid appearing aggressive with business cards.  Wait to be asked for yours. If that isn’t happening, ask the other person for a card.  Reciprocity generally follows.
  • When doing business abroad it is important to understand the local culture. Culture includes areas such as a country’s norms, values, behaviours, food, architecture, fashion and art. However, one area of culture that is important for the international business person is etiquette.
  • Understanding business etiquette allows you to feel comfortable in your dealings with foreign friends, colleagues, customers or clients. Knowing what to do and say in the right places will help build trust and open lines of communication.
  • One aspect of etiquette that is of great importance internationally is the exchanging of business cards.
  • Unlike in North America or Europe where the business card has little meaning other than a convenient form of capturing essential personal details, in other parts of the world the business card has very different meanings.
  • For example, in Japan the business card is viewed as a representation of the owner. Therefore proper business etiquette demands one treats the business card with respect and honour.
  • Below we have provided you with a few examples of international business card exchange etiquette that may help you on your business trips abroad

General Business Card Etiquette Tips

  • Business cards are an internationally recognised means of presenting personal contact details, so ensure you have a plentiful supply.
  • Demonstrating good business etiquette is merely a means of presenting yourself as best you can. Failure to adhere to foreign business etiquette does not always have disastrous consequences.
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  • When travelling abroad for business it is advisable to have one side of your business card translated into the appropriate language.
  • Business cards are generally exchanged at the beginning of or at the end of an initial meeting.
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  • Good business etiquette requires you present the card so the recipient’s language is face up.
  • Make a point of studying any business card, commenting on it and clarifying information before putting it away.

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