You have the perfect business card. You spent time picking out the perfect font, picking out the perfect graphics, and picking out the right thing to say on it. You made certain everything on the card is correct and that everything on the card has a purpose.
This evening you have a mixer with the alumni association or you're going to a networking conference. You're ready to use your new business cards as a tool while you build your professional standing and your business.
Is There a Right Way to Hand out Business Cards?
Yes. An appropriate greeting would look something like this. “Jan, it is nice to meet you. May I give you my business card?” Only give your card to people who ask for it or those whom you ask and receive permission to hand a card to. “Hey, let me give you a business card,” is not the appropriate way to give out a card and makes you look like less professional.
It's Important to Ask for Their Card, Too
Even if they were the ones who approached you first, ask for their card in return. You’re giving cards out to potential leads and hopefully customers; you'll need a way to initiate contact with them at a future date and time. Asking permission to receive a card gives you an added view of respect from the person you’re speaking too. You’re not viewed as just another pushy salesperson.
It is also good form to make a positive comment about business card you receive—say something about the clever wordplay, their great logo, or the quality of the paper. This adds to the giver’s self-worth and makes you more memorable in a positive way.
Other Business Card Etiquette Tips
Asking permission to give out a business card or waiting for someone to ask you to give out a card is not the only rule of etiquette a person should follow. Be sure to:
- Only give out business cards that look good. This is not advice about design and paper of the card; this means don’t keep business cards in places where the corners will be bent and the cards will become dirty. Make certain the card represents the “best you” possible.
- Take a business card case with several cards in it anytime you leave your office. Whether running an errand, going to the doctor, or going to lunch, you never know when you are going to run into someone who should have your card.
- Get their contact information. If a person has no card to return, give them two of yours so they can write their contact information on the back of yours and return it. When you get home, if you think this person could be a client, make certain to give them a call or email.
Business cards are important tools for making future communication in business possible. Follow a few simple rules of business card etiquette to ensure that the memories you create are positive and are memories you will want to be associated with.