Have you ever thought about how do you hand a business card to another person?
Many of my clients act surprised when I tell them that there are rules of protocol and etiquette when it comes to giving and receiving a business card. Let’s think for a second about it…
How do you give or accept a business card? How do you properly offer your business card? What is right to do with the business card you just received? Should you say something when you receive a business card?
There are all logical questions and in the following pages we will go over the most important rules when it comes to business card etiquette.
1. The format and role of business cards.
Let’s talk about something very important: THE FORMAT of business cards.
In over a decade of working in NGO diplomacy, I have come to learn that the look of a business card is as important and sometimes even more important than its presentation.
Business cards have the logo and name of the company or the organization represented, the full name of the person, title and the work contact information: company address, work phone, work e-mail and Web address.
The official business cards have to comply with the graphic elements provided by the organization. If you are working for a corporate or well-established organization, they must have already set that up for you.
Unfortunately, many organization and companies don’t put a lot of energy and effort into the design and content of their business Cards. Often choose a standard template, giving you all the information about them, but display nothing that catches your attention. Having a unique looking business card is a great way to boost your visibility and get ahead of your competition.
If you are running your own company/organization, make sure every employee is using the same template business card and if possible printed at the same store.
Nothing is more unpleasant for a foreign official when he comes into contact with a delegation of several representatives of the same company or organization, and each member presents a business card with a different graphics, although they all represent the same organization. From the first interaction, that organization sends a clear message that they have a communication problem internally. Therefore, any subsequent collaborations with that organization are doomed to fail.
The official business cards for those who have frequent contacts with foreigners can be bilingual -one in English and one Spanish- or, for contacts in Asia or the Middle East- one in English and one in Chinese, Arabic.
THE RULE OF BUSINESS CARDS.
Business cards can be used both when you meet someone and want to introduce yourself, but also to send very short, handwriting messages, or to accompany the sending of a document or object.
Business cards are physical objects. Unlike e-mails, they tend to stick around. You could send someone an email with all your contact information included in the signature, but handing someone a business card means that you had personal contact with that person, you met them in person, which makes business cards a more personal and efficient means of interaction.
Not many people know that though business cards one could send or convey specific messages.
In the Diplomatic activity, but also the business one, there are a series of abbreviation that can be written on business cards that have a very precise meaning. These rules are of French origin and are kept to this day,being used worldwide.
I chose to present them here as those who know them and use them will differentiate themselves from masses.
Depending on the situation, in the bottom left corner, you can leave the following notes with lead pencil:
P. P ( pour la presentation)- for presentation (e.g. when you’re new in a city and would like to introduce yourself to an official, neighbors and others)
p.f.c.(pour faire connaisances)- to meet. You express the wish to meet and start a conversation
p.f.(pour feliciter)- to congratulate for a special occasion
p.f.N.A.( pour feliciter a I’ occasion de la Nouvelle Annee)- to send wishes for New Year’s.
p.f.f.n.( pour feliciter a I’ occasion de la fete nationale)-to congratulate for the National day.
p.s.(pour saluer)- to simply say hello.
p.c.( pour condolences)- to send condolences.
p.r.(pour remercier)- to give thanks.
p.p.c.(pour prrendre conge)- to say goodbye.
Business cards with the last two abbreviations, p.r. and p.p.c. don’t require an answer from the receiver.
Suppose the abbreviation R.S.V.P.( retournez s’ il vous plait) is written on a business card accompanying the sending of a document. In that case, it means that the sender is asking for the return of the document.
Not to be confused with R.S.V.P. (repondez, s’ il vous plait) written on invitations, which is asking for the confirmation or refusal of an invitation to participate.