The Business Card…The Handshake You Leave Behind
Your business card and the handling thereof is a reflection of you personally and professionally. It can tell a lot about you. A business card can be part of the first impression someone has of you and part of the lasting memory you leave with them as well. It is as important as your handshake. In fact, it is the handshake you leave behind.
Although I have seen different shapes and sizes, business card size is pretty much standard. Be careful however, as large cards sometimes will not fit into wallets, card cases or business card readers.
Everything from the color, to the layout, to the graphics, etc. reflects upon you and your company. Listed on the card should be the company’s name or logo, the person’s name and title, business address, email address, fax number and telephone in that order, by the way. I recommend to people; keep your card simple. Sometimes a busy card is too hard to read.
Use good quality stock, with engraved or thermograph print. Be proud to hand someone your card. If your cards are of poor quality they will probably look discounted, and therefore you may look second-rate to those who are left with your card to remember you. You may come across as lacking professionalism and others in turn, may not want to do business with you.
There is etiquette to the presentation of your card to someone.
Here are 10 tips on business card savvy:
- Always carry your cards in a professional looking business card case. This keeps the cards from getting bent up and soiled.
- Present the card with your right hand with the lettering face up to the receiving party.
- Never write on someone else’s card in their presence. You can write on it as soon as you are by yourself to make note of important items to be used at a later date; such as the date you met, something about the person themselves, who referred you, projects involved with, etc. as these items may come in handy in later conversations.
- When presented with a card, look at it briefly before putting it away, and possibly comment about something on the card. This lets them know you are paying attention and are interested in them.
- When accepting a business card, place it in your breast pocket, wallet or even in your own card case, showing that you value it.
- Cards are given at the beginning of the meeting. When this happens, you can place each card on the table in front of you. As with several, place them in order of your guests to help you remember names (Japanese do this).
- Usually the higher ranking person starts the process. The person of high position should ask for your card first.
- In a social situation or a party, cards should be exchanged in private.
- Whether at a formal dinner or McDonalds, business cards should never be brought out during the meal.
- Cards should be exchanged between two individuals at a time, not scattered about in a large group. People may assume you are trying to sell them something and it may devalue your card.
As part of business card etiquette, it is important to know when to personalize your card. This is when you write on the front (or back) of your card, a short note and sign just your first name signature. You can also put a slash through your name as printed on the front of the card. An example of this would be when you are sending something, like a gift or various information. You could write “This may be of help to you, All the best,” followed by your first name signature.
If you travel internationally, and there is a specific country you are dealing with on a regular basis, I recommend that you duplicate your information on the reverse side of the card in the language of that country. Be sure to have your title on this card, because knowing your rank and status are of the utmost importance when dealing internationally. Know the custom in the country you are dealing with, as there are definite protocols of card giving that vary by country.
Being aware of what your business card says about you personally and professionally is the first step in wanting to understand the savvy associated with this part of doing business.