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Business Card Etiquette

First impressions tend to stick, so why not make a great one?  The business card is the easiest way to make a good first impression early on. Often an underestimated networking tool, the business card can be a powerful tool in forging new and memorable relationships. However, many people do not know the rules of this small, but mighty card. While business card etiquette is more relaxed in the USA than in other countries, it is still important to be cautious and respectful when it comes to handing over your card. A professional demeanor is the secret to making a lasting impression for you and your company. Remember to keep in mind your business card etiquette before making that important first impression.

Make An Impact

A great card is sturdy, informative, and makes it easy for the recipient to interact with you in the future. Your name and the name of your company should jump out and be legible. All information should be up to date and include your first and last name, job title, company, phone number, and email address. Aside from the basics, there are a variety of shapes, sized and styles that you can choose for your business card. When designing, keep your audience in mind. If you are in a creative field, feel free to experiment with different sizes and styles. However, if you work in financial or business services, you may want a more traditional style with standard shapes and sizes.

Keep Cards Clean and Crisp

72% of people said “Yes” that they would judge a company by the quality of their business card. Now that you have your design, you want to keep your cards in pristine condition. Do not hand out worn, dirty, or faded business cards unless you want your cards to look worn, dirty, or faded. Most of us want to keep our cards neat and clean with the edges sharp. You may want to get a business card holder that will keep your glossy and matte cards in top shape so you’ll be prepared when you run into that ultra-important client. Storing your cards in a place that protects them and makes them easy to find shows that you are prepared and dedicated to making a good impression. If you take too long to retrieve your business card from your purse or briefcase, your client may become disinterested. Your business card also keeps your new contact’s card in good condition as well. Don’t just stick it in your pocket or throw it in your purse. Using a holder shows that you intend to value and preserve the card they gave you.

Wait for the Right Moment

Showing your card at the wrong moment can make or break the impression you are trying to set. It’s crucial that you do it at the right time. If your potential client is busy or distracted, you won’t get the one-on-one attention you want and can come off pushy. Wait until the conversation turns to business, then offer your card face up. You can also wait until your contact offers theirs first, accept, and then give yours in return. Do not force your card on someone who is not interested. There are some exceptions, however. Business cards should always be passed out before formal meetings, so everyone in the room knows each others’ names and increase overall efficiency. Also if you are in an interview, begin with an exchange of business cards. It may not always be possible to directly offer your card, so you may also place the card in front of their notebook or seat. If you establish familiarity from the start, you will have a greater chance of building trust and establishing a secure connection.

The absolute wrong moment to hand out your business card is outside of a work function. It is considered tacky and unless you are discussing business or networking, giving out your card at the wrong time can be a reputation killer.

Show Interest

A big part of making a good first impression is showing interest. Like you, the giver has spent time preparing their cards, so your appreciation goes a long way. Thank the recipient, take note of its highlights, appreciate the gesture, and store it properly. When receiving a business card, read it over and ask a question or make a comment about the person’s business, services, product, or even the design.You wouldn’t open a birthday gift without taking a few seconds to look it over and say something about it. Show the same respect when you receive someone’s business card. Making a unique and relevant comment will help your prospect remember you when they need what you offer. After reviewing the card, consider placing it on the table above your notebook so you can glance at it during the meeting. Then when you leave, store it in your business card holder.


At Buffalo Press, Inc. we offer quality printed materials for any business, big and small, to deliver great quality and fast service at a fair price. When leaving the house, business cards are a necessity. Although they are small in size, they carry a big message. Business cards can represent trustworthiness, honesty, and reliability.They are a token of remembrance and without one, you are putting your business at stake. With creative design and text, potential clients will be sure to hold onto it and maybe even pass it along.