I was amazed at a business meeting I attended recently. Business cards were exchanged by literally, tossing them across the table. As I have travelled internationally, I have come to realize that our American attitude toward business cards can seem downright disrespectful. And that makes no sense. After all, a business card is an extension of a person’s image and, therefore, should be treated with the same respect you offer the person.
It’s not hard to show appropriate respect as you give and receive a business card.
When you receive a card, take a moment to look at it before putting it away. You show respect to the person who gave it to you by making the effort to read it.
Don’t shove it in a back pocket or just drop it in a purse. Put it away carefully and thank the person who gave it to you to continue to show your respect and appreciation.
Always have enough cards on hand to give out to people you will be meeting, and a few extras for those you may meet unexpectedly.
Another issue that causes people difficulty is when to exchange business cards.
Best time is at the start of a meeting. Business cards can be especially helpful for learning and remembering peoples’ names. You can place the cards in front of you on the table in the same relative position as where people are seated at the table. This gives you a quick reference guide to help solidify the names of the participants in your memory.
If you meet someone outside of a meeting, offer your card during the introduction.
Anytime a person offers you their card, reciprocate by offering yours to them as well. Of course this means having cards readily available. A small business card case will keep yours spotless and provides a great place to carefully put another person’s card.
If cards haven’t been exchanged sooner, be sure to exchange them at the end of the meeting or get-together.
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About the author
Since 2004, Peter Post has tackled readers' questions in The Boston Sunday Globe's weekly business etiquette advice column, Etiquette at Work. Post is the co-author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business" and conducts business etiquette seminars across the country. In October 2003 his book "Essential Manners For Men" was released and quickly became a New York Times best seller. He is also the author of "Essential Manners for Couples," "Playing Through–A Guide to the Unwritten Rules of Golf," and co-author of "A Wedding Like No Other." Post is Emily Post's great-grandson. His media appearances include "CBS Sunday Morning," CBS's "The Early Show," NBC's "Today," ABC's "Good Morning America," and "Fox News."