Using Your Business Cards

7 Tips on Basic Business Card Etiquette

As a staple of successful networking, your business card has the power to be a handy tool or a worthless contrivance — depending on how you utilize it. Here are a few tips that will help you get the most out of your cards, while still making sure you follow the basic rules of business card etiquette.

  1. Hold All the Cards (with Style)
    Nothing looks more unprofessional than pulling a handful of creased, crushed and crumpled cards out of your purse or briefcase. A sleek, stylish business card holder will help keep your business cards in pristine condition and make a great first impression on prospective clients.
  2. Never Leave Home Without Them
    Chance favors the prepared mind. Networking events and business expos aren't the only places to hand out your card. You never know when you might meet someone who could be a potential contact. It could be at a dinner party, the grocery store, the gym or even the subway. So always be prepared with a stack of business cards.
  3. Use Discretion
    It's important to know when to hand out your card and when to hold back. If you're too liberal with the way you're doling out your cards, new contacts may not take you seriously. At networking events, don't be overaggressive. Always follow basic business card etiquette by waiting for a natural break in conversation before introducing yourself and exchanging cards.
  4. Keep Current
    There's nothing worse than handing over a card and realizing that your contact information is wrong. If you know you have an office move coming up or have switched jobs, your first order of business should be ordering business cards. Better yet, order them in advance, so that you'll have your new cards ready to go.
  5. Listen Up
    Taking notes on someone's business card while they're talking can be viewed as rude. It's best to stay engaged in your discussion and take notes later. You can even flip over their card after they've left and jot down any notes.
  6. Respect the Card
    When someone else hands you a business card, take a moment to peruse it. If you like certain aspects of their card, perhaps a nice paper stock or cool design, let them know. They'll appreciate the feedback.
  7. Card Cleanup
    It's easy for other people's business cards to pile up, especially after a networking event. So make organizing your business cards a priority. It will help you remember which contacts are most important and which ones you can recycle.