You’ve heard it before: “First impressions matter.”
Networking and first impressions go hand in hand…literally. Oftentimes, business cards are your tickets to ensure your brand or business leaves a lasting impact on a potential client or employer. But your first impression involves more than your business card aesthetic. What’s arguably more impactful than your wallet-sized card stock is the way in which you present yourself and your business card. Whether you’re trying to land your first job, attempting to round out your portfolio with new clients, or considering a career change, effective networking with business cards can be the first step in creating new opportunity for yourself.
Here we’ve rounded up 6 rules to follow for proper business card etiquette. Take a look and let us know what you think in the comments below, or Tweet us @LinkingTriangle. We’d love to hear what you think!
- Always keep your business cards on your person.
- Tip: Keep your cards in a business card holder, not in your wallet, to reduce wear and tear. It is unprofessional to search through your wallet or purse for a business card.
- Hand your business card out as part of the hello handshake. Giving one to the person you’re talking to also gives you a polite way to ask for their card.
- Tip: Your business card is information about you and provides contact information so that if desired, either person can follow up later.
- When receiving a business card, pause to look at the card before you put it away.
- Tip: Thank the owner and take a second to comment about something on the card. This is professional courtesy and tells the owner that you are taking the opportunity seriously.
- Tip: Place the card in a business card organizer or holder. Do not put the card in your pocket or bag.
- After finishing your conversation and walking away from the person, write a note on the back of the card
- Never write on a business card while still speaking to the person, it’s generally considered rude
- Write a note so that when you’re writing the follow-up note, you remember what you talked about.
- Always follow up.
- Follow up within 24 hours with anyone from whom you receive a business card. Try to include a sentence or two that references something specific from the conversation you had with that person.
- Ask for business cards one-on-one.
- Tip: It is impolite to ask for a single person’s business card in front of a group of people.
Of course, the most valuable piece of business card etiquette is following up after the initial contact. Send a LinkedIn connection request and a follow-up email after exchanging cards as a reminder of your mutual interests and potential as an alliance.
Want to put some of our advice into practice? Linking the Triangle hosts monthly SpeedLink events, which bring together business owners and professionals in the North Carolina Triangle area (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill). Based on the format of speed dating, participants will have five minutes to network with each new person they meet. Once five minutes is up, attendees move to the next person. This is a fun, organized and well structured event where you will make many new connections in two hours. Join us and trade business cards during the next Linking the Triangle SpeedLink event!
SpeedLink: The next connection is a conversation away.