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Marketing and Branding Blog | SilkCards

11 Rules of Smart Business Card Etiquette

[fa icon="calendar"] Jun 3, 2016 2:00:00 PM / by Brielle Yang

Brielle Yang

two people exchanging info using good business card etiquette

At networking events, people have only about 30 seconds to make an excellent first impression regardless of what industry they're in. This is precisely why they couldn’t possibly afford to make the wrong impression. Whether they’re fishing for new clients, trying to boost brand awareness or working hard to attract new partners and investors, individuals who attend these events usually plan everything in advance, including their outfits, speech and follow-up plan.

Unfortunately, very few people acknowledge that the way in which they exchange business cards with their interlocutors is just as important as the suit they choose to wear or the information that they offer. 

Business Card Etiquette Rules to Remember, Always

So how much do you know about business card etiquette? If you feel the need to discover the basics of this prominent topic, here are the most important rules that you should never break while exchanging business cards in any given set of circumstances.

1. Always Keep Business Cards On Hand.

Networking opportunities can arise at any moment, but you could lose out on them if you don’t have a business card on hand for a new connection. Always leave home with a few business cards for chance encounters. You will instantly appear to be more professional and be more memorable when you have contact information ready and don’t have to write it on a piece of paper or simply exchange phone numbers. You could make the connection of a lifetime simply by being prepared for it.

Related: Have You Made Any of These 5 Networking Mistakes?

2. Do Not Offer Your Business Card Randomly.

For starters, keep in mind that you should never try to hand out cards to all attendees as if you are offering candy to trick-or-treaters. Slipping a business card in the hand of someone who is having a conversation with another person is a very rude gesture that you should never resort to. Basically, it’s annoying and distracting, and it constitutes the equivalent of getting junk mail at home.

If your goal is to keep your marketing message in the spotlight and enable it to reach as many individuals as possible, opt for other types of print marketing materialssuch as brochures, catalogs or billboardsor simply invest in an ad that you could distribute on multiple channels.

3. Only Hand Out Cards When Appropriate.

While constant networking is key to success, there are a few occasions where it is inappropriate to hand out your business card. Generally speaking, events celebrating life or mourning death are inappropriate place to introduce your business concerns. Instead of appearing ambitious, you may come off as oblivious or even worse, heartless. First impressions are crucial for networking, and you can instantly ruin yours by handing out business cards at the wrong event.

4. Give Your Card to Those Who Ask for It. Ask for Their Card in Return.

By exchanging cards with someone, you gain access to his or her contact information. This means that you have the chance to follow up with an email or a phone call. You could also follow them on social media or land on their website. The sky is the limit when it comes to listing all the valuable post-networking opportunities that a well-designed business card may help you unlock.

After handing out your business card to those who specifically ask for it, you could also ask them for a way to reach them as long as you are truly interested in what they have to say or offer. Otherwise, don’t just go around collecting hundreds of cards from random people, thinking that you may need them at some point.

Related: 5 Easy Networking Icebreakers to Start a Conversation Off Right

5. Don't Be Afraid to Ask for More.

After handing out your business card to those who specifically ask for it, you could also ask them for a way to reach them as long as you are truly interested in what they have to say or offer. Otherwise, don’t just go around collecting hundreds of cards from random people, thinking that you may need them at some point. The more interest you show in a potential contact, the more likely they will be to remember you and work with you in the future.

6. Perfect Your Presentation

In many instances, how you offer your business card to a potential connection is just as important as the card itself. You can impress upon a contact your organization, foresight and efficiency by always having cards in a certain place on your person, in a purse or briefcase. In some cultures, this step is given high importance and is taken to reflect the character of the organization you represent.

7. Leave a Note on Your Card.

When one of your new contacts ask you for your card, take the time to write a short note on its back before offering it to refresh the recipient’s memory and highlight the most important aspects of your conversation. However, keep in mind that this practice may be poor business card etiquette if you do a lot of international business with people of other cultures.

8. Don't Leave Inappropriate Notes on Theirs.

When a contact gives you a business card, don’t write on it unless your note is directly relevant to your conversation. For instance, make a note if you have agreed to send them something, but don’t write what position in your organization they think they would be a perfect fit for. You will take up more of their time than necessary and may also come off as too calculating.

9. Show Appreciation

Be sure to read the card when your contact gives it to you, and take care when storing it. Show that it is valuable to you and appreciate the time and effort your contact took to make it.

Related: 5 Tips Any Introvert Needs When Networking With Anxiety

10. Follow Up.

By exchanging cards with someone, you gain access to his or her contact information. This means that you have the chance to follow up with an email or a phone call. You could also follow them on social media, or land on their website. The sky is the limit when it comes to listing all the valuable post-networking opportunities that a well-designed business card may help you unlock.

You could simply leave them a message thanking them for meeting with you, which could lead to further dialogue. Waiting to contact them when you need them shows you are only interested in what they can give you. In addition, if you wait too long to get in touch, their information may have changed. The sooner you get in touch with them, the faster you can start building a relationship.

11. Protect and Add Value to Your Business Card Collection.

Don’t keep cards in your pocket or purse. By doing so, you could misplace or damage one of your most valuable advertising tools. Instead, try to keep your business card collection organized by buying and using a nice business card holder. Don’t doodle on your cards, either. Unless you need to add key information to help the recipient remember you and your chat, refrain from writing on the cards that you hand out. 

Also, every once in a while, you should consider updating your business card design with 4colorprint.com, especially if you have to modify your contact information, change your call to action or tagline or explore new methods to create a positive impression via well-chosen graphical elements that could add visual appeal to your print materials.

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Topics: business cards, networking

Brielle Yang

Written by Brielle Yang

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