RULES OF ETIQUETTE IN GIVING AND RECEIVING BUSINESS CARDS. WHEN?

By: Lord James Godfred Owusu Ambassador to Ghana, Kingdom of New Atlantis.

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The exchange of business cards happines at the time of meeting someone new.
Although usually you exchange business cards from the first interaction with a new contract, it is recommended not to start the conversation handling out your business card. Engage in real conversation with the person, get to know more about them and offer them also the opportunity to learn more about you. The purpose of handling out a business card is for people to remain in contact with one another after first interaction. So please, don’t hurry in giving out your business cards when attending conferences or big events to anyone and everyone present even if you have plenty of them with you. Those people will not remember you if you have not had a conversation with them and therefore, it is a lost opportunity to get to meet new people and stay in contact afterward.
Also, interrupting a conversation to slip a business card into someone’s hands while he/she is talking with others is a rude gesture.

WHO SHOULD FIRST OFFER THEIR BUSINESS CARD?
The highest- ranking person will be the one who offers the business card first.
Business cards have a long history, dating back to the 17th century. They were used as cards that would announce an impending visit or arrival of someone important or from high-class to a town. By the 19th century, they became very trendy and were a much-have by anyone in the middle-class. Upon entry to any house, people were greeted at the door with a tray and you had to place your card in it as a matter of etiquette.

Once you hand out a business card, it is ok to ask the person whether they could,in return, share their business card with you. If you asked for a business card it is a must that you follow up with that person afterward. You should only ask for cards if you intend to follow up.

HOW?
The way you offer a business card can be different based on culture. The general rule for most parts of the world is always offering and receiving a business card with your right hand or both hands.

In the Asian culture, however, it is only accepted to offer your card with both hands.

Also, another secondary rule that you have to keep in mind is to ensure that when giving a business card, it is turned towards the receiver.

Very few professionals pay attention to the etiquette of exchanging cards. If you’d like to make a positive impact on your professionalism and boost your credibility, make sure you respect these rules.

WHERE ARE WE KEEPING THEM?
You should aim to keep the business cards in a handy for immediate access to them. That can be one of your pockets, suit jacket interior or the exterior pocket of your purse. A prolonged search of business cards when you are about to them creates an embarrassing moment.

OTHER RULES OF ETIQUETTE
We should offer everyone a business card if their number is not more than six in a meeting with several people. It is violating etiquette to only offer business cards to your counterpart in a meeting attended also by hierarchically inferior colleagues.

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU RECEIVED A BUSINESS CARD?
When you receive a business card, you must read it first (be sure to read the institution, the person’s name and title) and then place it in your pocket or purse.
Let’s set something clear. And this should be known by any professional no matter the position. The GOLDEN rule is always read a business card that was just handed to you. It is a total disrespect for the person you just met and you don’t know anything about not reading their business Card. And no, it is not embarrassing to stop for a second and read their business card.
Let’s suppose that the exchange of business cards takes place during discussion that takes place at the table. In that case, the business cards will be kept on the table within your sight, in order to refer back to the card anytime you need to correctly pronounce the name of each person present in the meeting or the title.

Another GOLDEN rule: when we receive a business card, it is intended exclusively for us. The offeror chose to share his contact info with you. We can only offer others our own business card and do not offer business cards of people.
Avoid things like “Oh I don’t have my card with me but here you go take my colleague’s card he works with me in the same building. “

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