Should I consider to keep giving?
A person worth knowing always carries business cards with him or her. That’s how you put value not just on the card itself, but also on everything it embodies—your profession, company, brand, etc.
Last week, I was given my own business card. If I am not mistaken, eight employees (including me) were given his or her own set of calling card. Then, I heard one of my co-workers asks,
“How do you hand a card to another person?”
Come to think of it, how do you give and receive a business card? What should you do after giving one? What should you say after having received a card from someone else? How do you actually present the card?
Let’s explore the answers.
A business card is a staple of networking and thus, business success. What entrepreneurs and careerist do not understand is it only takes one wrong move to jeopardize one’s professional image. You only had one shot to make a good first impression, right?
Sadly, though, we see lots of well-dressed people who speak eloquently, highly confident but still leave a bad impression due to poor etiquette. This includes a lack of understanding of how to present a business card properly.
Basic business card etiquette to remember
Rule #1 – Never leave the house or office without your business card
First things first—always bring copies of your calling card with you, in a box, holder or any container that can protect the cards from wear and tear. You’ll never know when to give one.
There is nothing more unprofessional than having to say to the person who asks for it, “Oh sorry, I forgot to bring my card…” or, “Sorry, I just handed out the last copy of my card…” This leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Not to mention, a lost opportunity for you. So, make sure you always have them with you.
White at it, make sure you invest in quality business cards. This is an extension of your profession and the company you represent. It is only wise to present a business card with a well-thought-out layout, color scheme, and standard fonts.
Have as many calling card samples as you can have before printing the final one. Print new copies whenever necessary or when the needs arise (i.e. when you changed your contact info or if new information is available).
Rule #2 – Keep your business card to yourself
Your business card is not something you hand to every people you meet on an event. Don’t think that just because you handed out 100 business cards during an event you will receive 100 calls in a few days. Nope.
Although the goal of networking is to connect with as many people as possible, you still need to identify qualified leads, referral sources or future employers. Simply put, you need to be selective of who you are going to exchange calling cards with.
This does not mean that you should only talk and meet people who you think need or will need your products or services in the future. That’s absurd especially during a networking event.
Rule #3 – Give your business card when a person asks for it
Don’t be too aggressive about the whole process. Wait to be asked for your card. If an individual is interested in connecting with you beyond the event, he or she will ask about ways to contact you. This is the right time to give him or her your business card.
Hand your business card with discretion. Don’t give up to a dozen calling cards. This sends the message that your business card is not worth much as if you are telling the person to give them to others for you.
When receiving and giving a business card, use your right hand—the hand of discretion—or both hands. Receive the calling card the way it was presented to you. If the individual is using both hands, receive it with your both hands.
There may be a slight difference when doing business internationally. In some countries, handing over a card using the left hand is considered a grave insult. So make sure you understand the rules or practices of business card exchange first before meeting up people in another region or country.
Don’t ever give a business card with your fingers covering the details. Hold at the top corners of the card with the card facing the recipient so that he or she can read it. Look the person in the eye and smile.
You may give specific instruction on when is the best time to contact you and how (i.e. phone call, email, or chat, ) assuming that all numbers and email addresses listed on the card are up-to-date. However, do so politely, without being intrusive or tactless.
Ask for the person’s contact information as well. More likely, you will receive one’s own business card. Reciprocity generally follows. In case he or she forgot about calling you, you may simply do a follow-up as per your conversation. Just make sure that you are reminding the person of what you have talked about during the event.
Rule #4 - Treat the business cards professionally
One proactive way of dealing with this is through writing a note at the back of the card that is if that is the general practice in that area. You may write a note on your card before handing it over as well but ask for the permission of the person first. If he or she says no, then don’t scribble anything on it.
Some may say that asking if you may write something in the card is also an indiscreet practice. If you are in this situation, it would be wise to keep an organizer where you can write notes.
Observe how the person treats your or other business cards given to him or her. If he or she is writing directly on it, you may ask if you can do the same on his or her business card. Don’t assume that other people will welcome the idea, however.
If you are writing notes to yourself, the business card is not the appropriate venue to do so. You may only write on the card if what you will write is seemingly relevant. For instance, if the person asks you to send a copy of an e-book, you may simply put “Send e-book” on the back of the card.
Rule #5 - Make sure your business card is presentable
Further along, make sure that your business card is not crumpled or dirty in any way. This makes for a really bad impression. Cards should be professional-looking. The same applies to giving a card where you crossed off an old contact info and written the new one.
Also, be wary of where you put the box at all times. Otherwise, you will need to rummage through your things just to find it and lose credibility instantly.
Don’t place it on your wallet too. Not only it will get creased, but is unsightly to pull out one from your wallet every time a person asks for it.
When you receive a card, make a comment about it. Always. Focus on the positives, though, like the logo, business name, and other such elements you will see on the card. You may also clarify information detailed on the card. What you will say places value on the card.
If you have to put it away, do it gently. Put it inside a card holder or organizer, and not in your wallet or the back pocket of your handbag. Don’t chuck it on the table or your bag. Place the information in a database. Another etiquette faux pas is the need to ask for the business card of that particular person again.
Rule #6 – Don’t waste the business cards
Don’t stash the business cards you have collected at the back of your notebook, not in front of the person most especially. Put them somewhere you can easily access when you need the product or service later.
That’s the standard practice. Why collect a business card if you do not intend to make a follow-up?
Isn’t it a waste of time and effort on both ends?
The premise is that you need to capitalize on the first meeting and conversation.
After entering the details into a database, you can make a quick call, send an email or send a card. You may:
- Send a brochure (if the need is already established)
- Give an update (about your products and services)
- Send out relevant industry information (trends or tips)
- Even if you have the person’s calling card, he or she is not yet a part of your network unless you connect with him or her one time or another.
Other things to consider:
- Study the calling card design before you hand it over.
- Make sure that the details of the card are correct and updated.
- Hand the business card facing the person receiving it.
- Never write on the card of another person unless so directed.
- Business cards are exchanged at the start or end of the meeting.
- Don’t ask for business cards in front of a group of people; do this privately.
However, without knowing the basic rules of giving and receiving a business card, all your efforts will be futile.
Remember, one wrong move and your business success is doomed.
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