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The unwritten rules of business card etiquette

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By Contributing Author Debbie Fletcher

Business cards are an essential marketing tool for both small and large organisations, which is why many entrepreneurs turn to affordable business card printing.

Essentially, business cards are mini advertisements for your company offering influential people and potential customers all the details they need to contact you. Mingling with the right people, handing out promotional materials and following up essential networking leads can all result in a tidy profit but it’s important to follow the unwritten rules of business care etiquette. These include:

  1. Never leave your home without business cards

You never know when you might need to hand out a business card, so always make sure you have plenty of them on you – especially if you’re attending one of the many business exhibitions or tradeshows dotted around the country. Running out of business cards or handing someone a crumpled one from the bottom of your suit jacket in an act of desperation can create a bad impression, so always be prepared.

  1. Keep your cards in a special business case

As mentioned above, pulling your business cards out of a jacket or trouser pocket is not a good look. Similarly, keeping them in your wallet can look a bit casual, so try to store your cards in a specialised holder or business case. Not only will this give off more professional vibes it will enable you to network appropriately without your driving license slipping out onto the floor or showing clients a bunch of old receipts sticking out of your purse.

  1. Hand the card over so the person can read it easily

When handing over a business card, make sure the person receiving it doesn’t have to turn the card around in order to read it. This precision and attention to detail is basic networking etiquette and will create a good impression, encouraging people to look over your business card – even if it is for a couple of seconds while they pop it into their card holder or, (heaven forbid), pocket.

  1. Don’t write on other people’s business cards

Never write on a business card someone has given you, unless it’s relevant or they encourage you to do so. This could look rude and in the heat of the moment you might end up writing over important information like their website address, making it look like you’re not that bothered. Instead, try to keep a small notepad to hand in which you can write any additional details you might need at a later date such as website URLs or book titles.

  1. Understand international business etiquette

These days, many companies are international which means foreign travel is likely. As a result it’s crucial to understand international business etiquette to avoid offending associates or colleagues from a different country. There are quite a few rules to master depending on where you’re visiting, so it’s a good idea to read up on it all before you leave. Many rules are unwritten, of course, but you should come across some useful information – for example, Arabs never hand business cards over with their left hand and in China and Japan they always try to use both hands to give and receive.

The rules of business card etiquette might seem daunting, but if you think about it they’re largely common sense. Simply treat people professionally and with respect and you should be fine.

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