Someone recently asked, “Does anyone use business cards anymore?” We were surprised – and pleased – with the amount of interest from this seemingly simple Facebook post. And the answer – from a varied peanut gallery that included younger and more seasoned professionals in DC and across the country – was an overwhelming YES.
Aside from telling people that you work for a certain employer, business cards are part of your personal brand’s communications package and they should clearly send the message that you are a professional and take your career seriously. Here are five simple steps you can take to make sure that those who receive your business card remember you and your personal brand for all the right reasons.
Here’s My Card: 5 Easy Tips to Business Card Etiquette (And No, They’re Not Outdated)
1. Make It Professional
Most of us have issued employer-approved business cards, so you take what you get. But if you are a budding entrepreneur and have your own cards, put some time and effort into selecting the proper paper stock, font, coloring, etc. so that it is a card that has the look and feel of professionalism.
By professionalism, we don’t mean stuffy or conservative. Hardly, our business uses pink and green business cards and we find them quite marvelous. What we mean: does your card extend your personal brand as a professional in your line of work such that it will help you achieve success? If not, you should re-think your card’s motif. You want your card to work for you not against you.
2. Keep Them Clean and Crisp
The easiest method for keeping your cards in tip-top shape is to put them in a case for protection. Keep your card case fully stocked and keep it in a convenient place so that you aren’t that person giving themselves a pat-down or frantically digging through their work bag searching for the card case when someone asks you for your card.
3. Present It With Two Hands
Hold each side with your thumbs and index finger so that the writing is face-up and right-side up to the recipient. This makes it easy for them to read. If you cannot use two hands (say you are holding a cocktail, notebook, a file, etc in one hand) then just make sure you hand it over so that it is face-up and right-side up to the recipient.
4. Pause to Look at It
Fourth, when you receive a card take it (ideally with two hands as described above) and pause to look at it. This is a sign of respect, not a sign of weakness so don’t think they are thinking that you don’t know their name. Take the time to burn that name into your brain to help you remember it. Then put their card away. Wait until later to jot down a few notes that will help you remember the person, the connection, the conversation when you next run into them – you will look in control and at the top of your game. Writing on someone’s card when you are still in their presence is considered rude.
5. Exchange Cards at The End of a Conversation
Exchange cards at the end of a conversation – not at the beginning. Following this rule prevents you from ambushing someone you don’t know and handing out your card like a flyer to a free concert.
Younger, more junior professionals can certainly ask to exchange cards with someone more senior but only if you have the right hook – did you get introduced and then started a work-related conversation (commenting on a trend in the industry, their last speech, or the like)? Then (politely) go for it. Or did you just walk up to the VIP at a work conference, say “hi” and ask for their card? If so, then the answer is no. Don’t be that person. They will likely hand their card over, but you’ll look a bit boorish and they will likely never take your call.
Follow these five simple tips, build your personal professional brand and soon others will be asking for your business card.
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- Here’s My Card: 5 Easy Tips to Business Card Etiquette - October 30, 2017