I shared my tips for practicing proper social media etiquette in a previous post, but it got me thinking: What are the etiquette tips for exchanging business cards? I know you are curious too, so that’s why I wrote today’s blog post. Here are some easy to follow rules to help you practice proper business card etiquette.
Acknowledge the card
Think how incredibly rude it would be if you handed someone a birthday gift you had spent months putting together so it would be absolutely perfect and they just tossed it aside without even opening it. Super rude, right? Well, that’s exactly how someone is going to feel if you simply accept their business card and toss it into your purse or pocket. Even if you are not interested in anything the person has to offer, you need to put your best acting skills to work and fake it. Look at the card and say something nice about the design or the title of the person. For many small business owners that card is their only marketing. That’s it!
Also, if you’re meeting customers or clients from other countries or cultures, you’ll want to look up their specific rituals for exchanging business cards. You will be well prepared and less likely to offend someone.
Save the card
Keep all of the business cards you acquire. It doesn’t matter if you store them in a bowl on your bookshelf or in a desk drawer, the most important thing to do is to just keep them. I know it sounds easy to throw away the cards once you’re done with your networking event, and maybe you already know this won’t be the best business partnership, but think of more than just yourself. Do you know a friend, coworker or customer who might like to reach out to this individual? Great! Email your point of contact and let them know you passed their business card along to someone who would like to reach out to them.
This is the second most important step, after acquiring the business card. Remember when your parents forced you to write countless thank you notes to family, friends and guests who attended your birthday party or graduation party? This is the same thing. Send a follow up email to everyone you exchanged business cards with. This is a very nice gesture and it goes a long way. Yeah, it’s tedious and time consuming and you could be watching Netflix instead, but people will really appreciate the fact that you went the extra mile. If you’re really interested in meeting with someone you exchanged business cards with, call them! You don’t have to be creepy about it, but mentioning that you’re interested in grabbing coffee to talk more about business opportunities is totally normal.
Exchanging business cards is only a small part of the networking process, but it’s still important. If you practice proper business card etiquette you will be less likely to offend people and turn away potential business contacts, and isn’t that what we all want?
If you’re looking for more networking tips and techniques, download our guide to building a healthy networking habit: