Swopping For Success

The exchange of business cards is an important but often a neglected business practice. It is the first impression given to potential clients and partners and an effective tool to remind them to do business with you.

Like other business practices that varies with different cultures, the lack of knowledge in business card exchange etiquette may potentially lead to misunderstandings and even offend some.

For example, unlike in North America or Europe where business cards are simply a convenient way of exchanging contact details, the business card represents the owner in Japan. Thus, an improper business card etiquette may lose you a business deal.

Here are some tips on what to look out for.

1. Always have enough cards. Not having enough tells the person that you are not serious about your business or are too indifferent to be entrusted with theirs. You can leave some spare cards in your car and in every one of your bags.

2. Stand when presenting your business card.

3. When handing out your card, hold the two upper corners of your card with both hands. Or at least your right hand. In some cultures, the left hand may be considered unclean.

4. When presenting your card to a group, start from the most senior, followed by the next most senior and so on.

5. Take time to hand your cards out to people. One at a time.

6. Likewise, receive a business card with both hands and make it a point to greet him by his last name and designation. Clarify surnames and difficult pronunciations before putting it away.

7. Invest in a good cardholder. Do not leave cards nonchalantly on the table. If need be, leave it neatly on the table but be careful not to stack them. Never leave them behind or dispose them in a public bin at the meeting place.

8. Never write on someone's card especially in his presence.

9. Always keep your business cards clean and updated. Do not hand out dirty or torn ones.

10. Make it a habit to pass your card out in return, even if it is unlikely you will work with the individual.

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