Dealing the Cards: Don’t play your business etiquette hand like a game of chance

Dealing the Cards: Don’t play your business etiquette hand like a game of chance

IStock_000006984919XSmall I always find it intriguing how some people at a social function or formal networking event just don’t get the concept of how to react to a business card. That little 2 X 3 inch card offers them a valuable snapshot of a person’s achievements, accomplishments, education, industry, and expertise. But I still see people who will simply snatch the card and tuck it away in their wallet, pocket, or purse without even glancing at it.

Anyone guilty of that kind of indifferent behavior has just offended the person by showing a lack of respect for the card that represents who they are, what they do, and what they have accomplished in life. They have worked hard to get to where they are – so for goodness sake acknowledge it and strike up a conversation about it. You have a wonderful chance to demonstrate grace and show interest, because the card in your hand is a piece of their personal and professional history printed up in a tidy little package. By studying that card you can find out valuable information about their position, rank, and career role. So here are a few tips on how to properly accept a business card to build strong rapport and ensure better business ventures.

1) Stop to Appreciate the Card

As soon as someone hands you their card read it, looking at both sides. People are usually proud of their cards and of their careers, so ask about their industry and position or comment on the logo, colors, or graphic design of the card. People love to be recognized for their achievements, their brand, and the elements that define their professional image.

2) Handle it like a Million Dollar Check

It’s important to be respectful of another person’s business card. Handle it like a check for $1,000,000 – because it may be worth that much in future business. You wouldn’t just wad up a million dollar check and throw it in the bottom of your handbag or a pants pocket where it might get destroyed in the washing machine. Carefully and thoughtfully put it in a safe place like your business card case.

3) Don’t Forget to Reciprocate

Now hand them your card to show reciprocation. If you don’t have any cards on you – or if the ones you carry are tattered and creased – then that is a direct reflection on you, your company, and your personal image and brand. You want them to treasure your card and your business relationship so ensure that every card you hand out creates a strong positive impression.

4) Beware of Asian Business Card Protocol 

If you do work in Asia, remember this tidbit – because it could save you from losing a lucrative contract, offending a business partner, or appearing uncouth. In Asian culture it is considered disrespectful to accept a business card and place it in your back pocket where you will then sit on it. If you use your imagination you’ll understand the subtle connotation of that kind of gesture and why Asians consider it rude. So don’t just stuff the card in your wallet and then put it into your back pocket. Know the customs of the countries where you do business and you’ll succeed where others often falter and fail.

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Sarah Hathorn is a professional image consultant, certified personal brand strategist, speaker, and author. 

Her company, Illustra Image Consulting, works with high-achieving future leaders and large businesses by enhancing their corporate and personal brand image to take their businesses and careers to the next level.

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Copyright © 2010, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIP, CPBS

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