Business Card Etiquette

Are you the type that hands out business cards as soon as you arrive at a networking event? Do you struggle to find your business cards, only to find them tattered from being stuffed into your purse or wallet? How you give and receive business cards says a lot about you and your company. While not always talked about, business card etiquette remains an important part of networking. Knowing exactly when and how to present your business card can make a difference in how people remember you.

Your business card should look and feel good in the hand of its recipient. A great business card is made from sturdy materials, is easy to read and contains relevant information. Make sure your business cards include your name, company name, address, phone number, email address, website, and any other important contact information. Relay your company’s brand by using company colors, logo and a clean design. You can also use a company tagline or slogan that may help jog the memory of the card recipient.

Business cards are an investment. Keeping them neat and clean is crucial if you want to make a great impression on the person receiving your card. Nothing makes a negative statement more than handing someone the wrinkled and smudged card that was stuffed in your wallet or the bottom of your purse. Damaged, dirty business cards make you appear unprepared, disheveled and unreliable. To avoid making this type of impression, always keep your business cards in a place that protects them and makes them easy to find when you are busy or distracted. A business card case is easy to carry and can keep your cards organized.

Being mindful of how your business cards are handed out is just as imperative as to how they look. Tossing your business card across a conference table, or jamming it into the recipient's hand is unprofessional and can make you appear overzealous. Yes, one of the goals of networking is to identify qualified leads and get your company’s information out there to people who may use your products and services. But this does not mean you should deal out business cards as if you were about to play a game of poker.

Instead, wait to give your business card once someone has asked for it. At networking events, it is customary to meet and speak with potential contacts and then exchange cards towards the end of the conversation. Always offer an exchange of business cards. Why? If you give the person you are speaking to your card, not only do you seem rude for not accepting their card, but you have no control over whether or not that person will contact you. By exchanging business cards, you ensure a two-way form of contact that you can follow up on as needed.

Once someone has given you their business card, be wary as to how you handle it. Do not crumple or fold the other person’s card immediately upon receiving it. Rather, take a moment to look at the card and thank the person who gave it to you. Remember, a lot of careful thought and design went into that card; your appreciation will go a long way with the giver.

Often times, additional information than what is printed on the business card may be needed. While it is considered impolite to write on someone else’s business card, if specific notes or information are needed in order to follow up with the person, you may do so. Appropriate notes to write would be additional phone numbers or email addresses. You could also include a quick note as to what your conversation was about so that it is easy to remember when following up. Do not make notes on another person’s business card if they have not volunteered different contact information than what is on the card. Wait until the person has gone before writing your own notes and reminders. Once the conversation has ended and you are preparing to leave, place the card in your business card holder before walking away. Never throw someone else’s business card into the bottom of your bag or crush it into your wallet! If you are attending a conference or event where you will receive several business cards, have a file folder or envelope set aside to store business cards once your new contact has walked away.

After returning from a conference or networking event, organize any new business cards you may have received. You may choose to scan them into your computer or file them in a notebook. However you choose to keep track of your business cards, do so with care. You never know when you will need to get in touch with someone you’ve recently met.

Practice makes perfect when using new networking skills. Practice your business card etiquette by joining Levy Recognition at the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) National Conference & Business Fair. Stop by our booth to learn even more ways Levy Recognition can help your business. Exchange business cards with our staff and keep us in mind the next time your business needs innovative awards, promotional gifts or branding services.

This is part of our Networking Series. Our other tips include:
# 1 Plan Your Networking Strategy
#2 Making a Positive First Impression
#3 Business Card Etiquette
#4 Tricks to the Tradeshow Booth
#5 Following Up After Your Networking Event

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