Leaving the Right Impression with Business Card Etiquette
By Kathleen D. Pagana, PhD
Recently, while attending a conference, a lot of interesting people
met at a dinner banquet. At the end of the meal, several wanted to
exchange business cards. Two people were embarrassed to admit that
they did not have cards, but said they planned to get them. Are you
wondering if it is time to get a business card? Do you need an
update on business card etiquette? If either or both of your
answers are “yes,” this article will enhance your professional
image. Let’s discuss five common questions related to business
do you need a business card? Business cards are a great
way to capture essential information in a quick and user-friendly
manner. Every professional needs a business card to network.
Recently, a colleague at a luncheon was asked if she wanted to run
in a 5K race to support breast cancer research. When asked for race
details, the website was written on the back of a business card.
Isn’t that better than writing on a table napkin?
people love to get a business card. It gives them a sense of being
an important part of a team and having access to key personnel.
Business cards can be clipped to a report, a note, or anything you
are sending to someone. This lets the person know that you are the
sender and gives your contact information.
information should be on a business card? This will
depend on the purpose of the card. Some basics include your name,
degrees, position, and contact information – address, phone, email,
and fax. If your full name is ambiguous (such as, “Pat”), add a
title (for example, “Mr.” Pat Sweeney or “Ms.” Pat Sweeney). If you
are trying to promote something, like a consulting business, make
sure you have consultant on the card and include a web address if
you have one.
It is a
great idea to have more than one business card if this will help
target your business to a specific audience. Business cards can
also be designed for purely social situations. When a new family
moved into a neighborhood, they gave everyone they met a business
card with their names (parents and children) and contact
information. Everyone was really impressed and quickly learned
cards can benefit by the personal touch. For example, you may add
your cell phone number on the back if you will be traveling and
tough to get hold of during a certain time period. That is a
thoughtful gesture that will be appreciated.
make my own business card? Yes, if this is the only
way that you will get a card. This will give you an opportunity to
test out what you have written on the card. Usually these homemade
cards are readily detected by the perforations around the edges. As
soon as you can afford something better, get the cards printed
professionally. The business card is one of the first graphic
statements we make about ourselves.
asking your employer to provide a card so you can network more
effectively. This will improve your image and the image of your
facility. Make sure the card is in good condition. Don’t use a card
if it is soiled, bent, or ripped because the card will not reflect a
positive impression or memory of you. It is better to give no card
than to give one in a bad condition. The business card is sometimes
described as “the handshake you leave behind.” Men should not remove
a warm and mushy card from their back pocket and present it to
are some common mistakes people make with business cards?
Here are five mistakes with some suggestions.
Passing out your cards like you are dealing a deck of cards.
(It is better to have a person ask for your card. One
way to do this is to ask for his or her card.)
Not presenting the card. (Business cards should be
presented with the content face up and readable to the
receiver. The receiver should look at the card and make a
comment. For example, “I see you are a Computer Specialist.”
Writing on the card without asking permission. (In some
parts of the world, such as Japan, you deface the card if you
write on it without asking permission.)
Not having your business cards with you at all times.
(Keep some cards in your wallet or purse at all times. You
never know when someone will ask you for one. A business card
holder will keep your cards looking professional.)
Not having a card and asking for someone else’s card to write
on the back. (This is rude. You should jot your information
on a piece of paper. Then, make sure this doesn’t happen
business card etiquette differ around the world? Yes, it
does. So, if you are traveling for business to a foreign
country, check into this before you travel. Some countries (for
example, Germany) are impressed by education and like to see all
degrees and titles above the bachelor’s degree. Other countries have
a particular way to present the card. For example, in China,
the card is held in both hands when it is presented. In Saudi
Arabia, the card should be printed in English on one side and Arabic
on the other side. When traveling to Poland, bring plenty of cards
and give one to everyone you meet.
questions and answers clearly show the need and importance of having
a business card. If you don’t have a business card, when are you
going to get one?
Read other articles and learn more
about Kathleen D. Pagana.
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