In the 17th century, business cards were called “bearer” and ”calling” cards, indicators of social status. The cards later became ”trade cards”, used as a way to identify oneself as part of an organization and provide contact information.
Today, business cards constitute a professional staple. Below are a few rules for exchanging them with respect and polish:
- Extend your business card face up and oriented so that the recipient can read it with a glance.
- Do not ask a higher ranking person if you may give her (him) your card. Wait for that person to offer hers, then exchange. If the higher ranking person does not initiate the exchange, accept the fact that there will not be one.
- It it correct to write on a business card? Perhaps there is a phone number that is not on your card but you wish the other person to have. Since this is your card, feel free to write a note on it before handing it to your companion. However, be careful about writing on someone else’s card! Etiquette differs with cultures. In the U.S. it is often acceptable. However, if you are exchanging business cards with someone who is Japanese, don’t even ask! Your companion would be insulted by the sight of you defacing his/her card! In all cases, take the safe route by waiting until the person is out of sight to jot down notes.
- When accepting a card, take a few seconds to read it, then make a brief comment. This sends a message of acknowledgement interest.
Manners are tools through which we show others they are important. The way we offer and receive a business card can signal that the conversation and, thus, the person, is important to us– or not.