Whether you’re a social media boss with 1M+ followers, entry level recent college graduate on the rise, well established cubicle all-star by day and Shark Tank entrepreneur by night or just a legitimate shot-calling “Olivia Pope” style attorney, understanding proper business card etiquette is a must.
There are a few things to keep in mind when giving or receiving business cards. First, is that, business cards are a representation of one’s self, and a highly valued one I might add depending on who’s receiving and who’s giving, but that’s besides the point. If you are the giver of the business card, you should present your cards with the same pride you would as if you were presenting a miniature version of yourself to the person. This means no bent corners, folds, creases or tattered edges. The use of a good business card holder will certainly remedy this. A good business card holder is typically leather or silver and can range from $15 to $150. Make sure your business card is void of notes from previous conversations with any other business contact. Receiving one of those is about as much fun as your girl calling you the wrong name (even if it is harmless, it just feels violating and insincere).
Next, if you are leaving your house or office, you want to make sure you never leave without them, and plenty of them. You never know when a great opportunity will present itself, and trust us you’re always one card short right when you need it. #Youlose
Short of throwing your card at someone like a ninja star, you will be okay when giving someone your card, if you take heed to the above. Keep in mind, if you are mailing someone your card or networking with someone who must then speak to another person on your behalf, it is best to give them an additional card for the intended end recipient. You know what they say, “it ain’t no fun, if the homies can’t have none.”
As important, if not more important than giving someone your business card, is correctly receiving a business card. Remember, business cards are a source of pride for many people, particularly when exchanging business cards with people in various international cultures.
Business cards can be great conversation starters, ice breakers, or conversation closers. It is a sign of respect to observe, review, and comment upon receiving someone’s card (as opposed to stuffing it in your pocket or card holder). You can respond with something as basic as “what city is this area code from?” or something more detailed like “nice slogan” or “this card is a good stock.” An acknowledgement of one’s card goes a long way, you wouldn’t exactly have a date pay for a meal, and not acknowledge the meal or the effort, would you?
Since business cards are an essential tool for networking, be sure to write notes from your conversations with the giver on the back of the card soon after receiving it so you’ll remember both the contact and the conversation. Lastly, it is extremely important to send a follow-up e-mail or card after exchanging business cards and connect on LinkedIn to continue the networking relationship.
It’s rough out there, but, what better way to learn than at the School of Card Knocks? Enjoy.