Business Card Etiquette

I was at a networking event this past week and I was just handed business cards left and right without even a semblance of sincere contact. As such, I want to take this time to talk a little bit about business cards and the basic etiquette that I believe should be followed.

Business cards should be an extension of you. It should not only give out your contact information but also describe your business and personality. Nowadays there are so many ways to create a business card from standard rectangular shapes to circles or squares and with colors and pictures. It’s so easy to get free business cards and there is no reason that you shouldn’t have a business card.

HOWEVER! Having a business card doesn’t mean you get to throw it around to every person you meet. As I stated above, it is an extension of yourself, you wouldn’t want to seem desperate by giving your business card out to every single person you meet. I understand that you want to put yourself out there and help your business, but if you are trying to advertise your business, then advertise it through actual adverts—billboards, email campaigns etc. You should not be trying to advertise yourself when you are actually trying to network and build a relationship with someone. As such as a rule business cards should only be given out when asked.

When it is time to give out and receive business cards, follow these tips:

  1. Ensure the business card is clean and crisp. A well-presented business card implies a well presented business person.
  2. Receive the business card promptly and compliment the card on the design or the logo. The business card you received is like a gift and should be shown thanks.
  3. Place the business card in a business card holder. It is bad taste to just dump it in your purse or stick it in your wallet.

Now that you have properly exchanged business cards, make sure you don’t waste it. There are so many instances where business cards are exchanged and there is no follow-up. The whole purpose of networking and exchanging business cards is to maintain future contact and build a relationship.

If you have received a bunch of business cards and have no idea which person relates to which business card (I have been guilty of this), a great tip is to write a brief description on the back of the card about what the person was wearing or what was discussed. Please note that this memory aid should be done outside the view of the person who gave you the business card.

To summarise:

  1. Don’t give out your business cards to everyone you meet, wait until they ask for it
  2. Make sure your card is crisp and clean
  3. Compliment the business card
  4. Put the business card in a card holder
  5. Put a little note on the back of the card
  6. Follow up!

I’d love to hear about any experiences you’ve had when exchanging business cards or any other tips or suggestions.


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