He walked into the cocktail party and began passing out his business card as if he were passing out coupons for free ice cream. Those accepting the cards appeared puzzled. They had neither asked for, nor indicated a desire to receive one.
Yet he continued on as if driven by a sales contest. While he probably thought he was "working the room," his behavior made him appear pushy and desperate.
Dispensing business cards to prospective clients and customers is essential, but there are more graceful and productive ways to do so. After all, your card will more than likely be tossed away if the person has no interest.
Strict business protocol dictates that you should wait until asked before offering a business card. However, in today's competitive market, this might not be practical. Still, restraint should be exercised. A better way to give your card is to simply ask, instead of automatically pushing it in someone's face.
Do's and don'tsWhen you are handed a card, show respect by taking the time to read the card thoroughly and demonstrate some interest. Don't just glance at it and then stick it in your back pocket. Not only does this give the impression of a lack of respect, it is considered offensive in some cultures.Try to find something on the card that could be a topic for discussion. For example, you might want to repeat the person's name for pronunciation, and then place the card in an area of respect such as your planner or wallet.Do not enclose your business card with correspondence that might be emotional or personal in nature, such as with condolence or get-well cards. This type of correspondence calls for a handwritten note. Avoid giving multiple cards to someone at once. Give one at a time, rather than two or three.If someone asks you for your card, then it is polite to ask for theirs, as well.Be discreet and unobtrusive when giving someone your card. Tossing it at someone appears brash and rude. Card exchange should be private between two people.Try to avoid offering your card early during a conversation to anyone who is a complete stranger. You might regret it later, if the stranger turns out to be a pest.Business cards should not be brought out during a meal.If you are conversing with someone of higher rank or position, then wait until they ask you for your card. The higher-ranking individual will appreciate the respect you show.Present your card so that the print is facing the recipient.Avoid writing on someone's card in their presence without their permission. While writing notes about the person that you just met such as the date that you met them, any follow-up that you might need to do is helpful, it is best to do this out of their presence.Make an effort to carry your cards with you at all times. You never know when a business opportunity may arise.Make sure that your cards are clean with no frayed or worn edges. Do not hand out cards that have inaccurate information or information that is scratched off or written over. This gives the impression of disorganization.If you do not have a business card with you, then do not ask someone for theirs to write your information on the back. It is better to write your information on a plain piece of paper.When networking, be sure to keep you card in an easily accessible place. You do not want to be rummaging through your purse, pants or jacket searching for one while you are also balancing a plate and drink in your hands.There are many schools of thought on the best time to give and receive cards during a business meeting. However, if cards are exchanged at the beginning, then the names and titles of those attending will be more convenient during the meeting.
Other cultures and
the business card
Business cards are a globally recognized way of presenting your business contact information. However, be aware that many countries have different protocols and customs for presenting them. In some countries it is offensive if the guest offers his or her card before the host. In others, it is offensive if the guest writes on the host's cards.
You do not want to inadvertently offend someone before business even begins. When traveling abroad for business, it is a good idea to have one side of you card translated into the appropriate language. Other examples include:
In Japan, the card is perceived as a representation of the owner and should be treated with utmost respect. Cards are exchanged with great ceremony so be sure to keep cards in immaculate condition. Hold your card with both hands and present it with the recipient's language facing them. Present your card to the person of highest rank first.
When you accept a card, hold it with both hands, bow and thank the person. Make a point of studying the card, commenting on it and clarifying information before putting it away. It is considered impolite to put the card away immediately. Again, do not put the card in your hip pocket because this is considered a sign of disrespect. The Japanese are very conscious of hierarchy and status, so make sure that your card includes your title.