Posted by: Viviana M. Rueda Image | August 20, 2008

For All: Business Card Etiquette

Business Cards – We all use them.  And for most of us, the business card is one of our most powerful sales tools.  Not only are business cards one of the primary ways through which people know how to contact us, but many of us actually list our services and other marketing information on them.  And don’t forget that your business card is an extension of your brand.  It will typically have your logo on it and have a layout consistent with the messaging that your corporate brand should impart.
That in of itself should be the primary reason as to why you should be concerned about how you utilize your business card.  And I’m not even referring to how you design and create them.  That’s an entire conversation on corporate branding!   I mean the etiquette behind USING your business card. 
So take a moment and think about how you present your business card and how you receive someone’s business card.
Now score yourself!  The following are some Do’s and Don’ts for business card etiquette:
1. Do not dig for your business card in your suit jacket, your purse or your pants pockets.  If you know you are going to be in a setting where you’ll be required to hand out your card, keep it in an easy-to-find location.  Avoid looking like my cat diving into his bag of cat food at 5 p.m. every day (Yes.  That’s when I feed The Monster…aka Kitty Cat).
2. Do keep your business card in a clean, professional and chic card holder.  Mind you, keeping in line with your image.   If you are the CEO of a major, public company…nix the Hello Kitty and leave it for your rave parties in Little Tokyo (because you really never know when you might need that Hello Kitty card holder).  Opt for stylish, under-stated but try to reflect your own self expression.  I carry an assortment of chic Italian leather card holders from one of my favorite designers.  I’ve about 5 of them and I trade them out according to the occasion.  If I need a power card holder I break out the deep red, snakeskin pattern one, if I’m meeting with my society ladies I break out the edgy animal print and for weekends I opt for a gorgeous pastel-ocean-colored patent card holder. 
A little secret….if you are one of those people who seriously needs to simplify and your wallet looks like a tax auditor’s wet dream (aka crammed with messy/random business receipts from’05), then SIMPLIFY and experiment with using a business card holder as a wallet.  It’s fabulous for weekends AND you start to discipline yourself on those receipts.  Which speaking of, go to a stationary store and buy yourself a nice leather envelope/letter holder to store your receipts.  Ladies, you should have one of these for your purse so that you don’t have stuff your mail or important documents into your purse.  Remember that it’s important to compartmentalize your purse.  For the sake of the interior of your purse (take care of it so that the purse lasts longer) and for the sake of sanity, use leather or cloth bags to organize your purse.  Makes it easier to change purses quickly too….
3. Do attentively present your business card.  When you present your business card to someone, do so with the handwriting up and in the direction that the recipient can read it.  Only brokers read upside down (there’s a survival reason for this), so be polite and give your new friend the option to be able to read your card as they receive it. 
4. Do acknowledge the receipt of a business card.  When you are presented with a business card, thank the person giving you the card and make note of their name or take note about something that acknowledges that they’ve presented you with a valuable piece of information about themselves.  E.G. “I see that you work on 8th and Figueroa, I worked in an office down the street for years.  Great area.”  Or “You are with BBB Development?  One of my clients works in the M&A division of your company”.  Come up with something whenever you can.  It’s the acknowledgement that they appreciate.
5. Whatever you do…DO NOT, grab the card, stuff it into your pocket as you anxiously scan the crowd for someone you know or for someone that you are worried you’ll miss.  That’s a surefire way to ensure that the person who just gave you their professional information (aka their card) will feel oh-so-not-special and maybe even slighted or disrespected.  And try to treat the card with respect – Folding it in half…no bueno!  Do you have any idea how much they spent to have that card produced!  Enough said.
Happy Business Card Presenting!
Viviana M. Rueda
Image Advisor
Vivendi Fashionista
Image and Branding Experts
Sample Chic Business Card Holders

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