Etiquette of Business Cards: How to Avoid Offending Your Hosts

15 Oct

A business card is an inexpensive, internationally recognized means of representing yourself to business associates and of conveying contact information to them. The card serves as a method of introduction and often includes a simple statement or selling point about your business or service.

The Basics of Card Layout

Typically a business card includes the name of the person, the company name, a company logo if applicable, and the relevant contact information (street address, postal coding, country, telephone and fax numbers, and email addresses.)

Traditionally black ink is used on white card stock. The typeface should be legible and professional. The international standard for card size is 85.60 x 53.98 mm (3.370 x 2.125 inches).

Business Card Etiquette in North America and the UK

In North America and in the United Kingdom business card etiquette is quite loose. Although cards should be kept clean and presentable, it is not uncommon for businessmen to carry cards loose in their pockets or to make notes on the card’s back or other blank surfaces. Little if any ceremony is attached to card exchanges..

It is recommended that only one card be presented per person and that cards be handed out at the beginning of meetings (as an aid to remember names) but otherwise as long as general good manners are observed no offense will be given or taken. This is not true, however, in other parts of the world.

General International Business Card Etiquette

Business cards are internationally recognized as a means of introduction and information exchange but in many cultures they are also seen as a representation of the individual. The basic etiquette rule is to present your card in the best manner in which you would present yourself.

Always have a good supply of cards. You will be expected to present them to business contacts — sometimes more than once in the interest of good manners. Do not carry your cards loose in your pockets or allow them to become soiled. Never write on your card or on any card you receive unless directed to do so. Invest in a small, discreet card case.

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