Business Card Etiquette

First, take stock

Opportunity knocks anytime, anywhere. So, be ready to own it. Make sure you carry enough business cards on you for any occasion. It’s embarrassing to have to make an excuse if somebody gives you their card and you can’t reciprocate. And even if it’s true, “mine are at the printers” sounds about as credible as “the dog ate it!”

Keep your cards close at hand

No one looks confident when they’re rifling through their pockets. Show how well-prepared you are by having your cards close to hand. This not only looks professional, but you never know where or when you’ll meet your next client.

Share fresh business cards every time

A sturdy business card holder keeps your cards clean and crisp. And while sharing a fresh card from a holder looks professional, storing your new contact’s card alongside your own shows, consideration and attention to detail.

Follow the other person’s lead

In the same way a fumble-free baton pass maintains speed in a relay race, a frictionless business card swap keeps the momentum of your conversation going.

Try this: when you receive a business card, accept the card in the same way the other person offers it to you.

If the person you’re speaking to presents their card with two hands, accept it with two hands. This gesture is a practical way to overcome any language or cultural barriers when networking abroad.

Maintain comfortable eye contact

You know that making eye contact is important, but how much? Too little and you may seem disinterested. Too much feels intense and a bit creepy.

Regular eye contact lasts about four to five seconds before you tend to look away. When you’re speaking to someone, you’re comfortable around, you look the other person in the eye when talking or listening, then look away to reflect or ponder your next thought.

A good rule of thumb is 50/70: maintain eye contact 50% of the time when speaking and 70% when listening.

Put your business cards to work

You don’t always have to wait for a formal introduction to share your business card. Here are a couple of scenarios where sharing your card can feel personal even when you can’t introduce yourself in person.

Include your card in product packaging

Etsy sellers and other independent online business owners often include a business card in their packages. Adding a handwritten thank-you note alongside your business card makes the moment someone unboxes your parcel personal and memorable and encourages them to get in touch with you.

Create cards people can’t resist picking up

There are countless opportunities to leave your cards everywhere from shops and restaurants to libraries and town halls. This makes it easy for people to find your contact details when they’re looking for a local provider. But if you want yours to stand out, it’s essential to make your business card irresistible.


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