Business Card Etiquette

by ryanj on March 18, 2017




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Business Card Etiquette

 

In many office environments, conferences and firms there is a protocol to giving and receiving business cards. Passing along one’s business card is part of the business culture and that culture changes when you travel to different countries and have to interact with people from different backgrounds. Knowing the etiquette of a particular industry or country will save you an embarrassing gaffe that could insult your host and cost you a sale.

In the United States business cards are ubiquitous and the passing out of cards is generally a common practice that doesn’t involve too much thinking. Generally speaking if you have engaged a colleague in a conversation concerning his or her business and there appears to be a need for your product or service it is expected that you will offer a business card. However, to play it safe it is recommended that you ask first before offering a card since merely thrusting a card at someone can be seen as rude and pushy.

If your business involves international travel then it is your responsibility to understand the culture you are entering and how to act accordingly when presenting a business card.

For starters, don’t expect the other party to understand English. If you are traveling to a particular country make sure one side of your business card contains important contact information in the language of the host country. Translation services are easy to find and this small gesture will be seen very favorably in the eyes of the host party.

China is becoming a very important international trading center and if you are on a business trip to China make sure to know in advance if your contact speaks Cantonese or Mandarin dialects and have the script on your card in the appropriate format. Also, when presenting a business card in China use both hands to offer the card and never write on the other person’s card unless instructed to do so.

Other nuances you will find in other countries include always using the right hand to present a business card in India; you can give a business card with one hand but must receive a card with two hands in Japan and also should have your title prominently displayed as it is custom to emphasize status and hierarchy.




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