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Top Business Card Etiquette Tips for Professionals in the U.S.

business card etiquette

Compared to exchanging business cards in other countries, business card etiquette in the U.S. is much more relaxed. That being said, it’s still possible to engage in practices that can seem inappropriate or even offend. Following these tips will help you leave a lasting influence and positive representation of your company.

Keep cards clean and protected.

When carrying around business cards, be sure that they are kept in a safe place to help them remain crisp and ready to be shared. The quality of your business card is a physical representation of your professionalism, so scuffs and tears will detract from the image you’re trying to uphold. Crumpled business card will make a poor first impression.

Always have business cards on hand.

Your business cards should be on the same level as your wallet, keys, and phone: something you never leave your home without. There are few things less professional than having to say you ran out of business cards or you did not bring any in the first place.

Know where your business cards are at all times.  

A quick way to lose credibility fast in front of other professionals is to be frantically searching for where you placed your business cards. Keep your cards in a designated place on your for easy access.

Wait for the right moment.

A crucial aspect of business card etiquette is to wait for the appropriate time to exchange cards with other professionals. Although the main goal is to distribute many business cards, it is just as important to do so at the right moment. The best time to give your business card is when you’re receiving one-on-one attention with another professional; otherwise, you may come off as pushy while they are talking with others.

It’s not always the best time to hand out your card.

Business card distribution should not be limited to solely business functions, but there are still times where you should refrain from giving out your card. Funerals, religious ceremonies and other solemn emotional events are generally not conducive places to swap business cards.

Pass out business cards before a meeting begins.

Exchanging business cards prior to a meeting ensures that everyone in the room knows each other’s’ names, which will increase the overall efficiency of the meeting.

Show interest in others’ business cards.

Upon receiving a professional contact’s business card, it is always helpful to look the card over and ask a relevant question or make a positive comment about the person’s card. This displays a sign of respect and places value on the card. Also, be sure to say “thank you” every time you receive a new business card from someone.

If you’re with business superiors, wait for them to offer their card or ask for yours.

In many instances, professional superiors will appreciate that you respect their time, which could propose lucrative effects down the line. If you ask for someone’s card, reciprocity usually follows.

Keep your business cards up to date.  

When any of your contact information changes, update your business cards as soon as possible. It is poor business card etiquette to distribute cards that has crossed off information with a handwritten phone number or address above.

Only ask for cards from people you intend to follow up with.

Don’t waste contact information; do something that will make the most from your initial meeting. Maintaining professional relationships by regularly connecting with your contacts will keep you network not only expansive, but meaningful.

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