Business Card Etiquette?

I was doing SCORE counseling when a client came in, threw her business card on my desk with the card facing her. What is wrong with this picture?

1) no value for the card, her name or her company -- you don't throw them at people

2) no introduction as to why I would want her card

3) most people can't read upside down as well as they can right side up and 

4) no respect for me, the counselor, who needs to place value in her company. 

In short, yes, there is business card etiquette. Many of us know the Asian approach to giving and receiving cards. You wait until it is appropriate to give the person a card, you hand the card to them facing the client with both hands and you give them a minute to actually read and respond to the card. This may seem a bit formal for most of us, but I like it. There is in turn, etiquette for the card receiver. You thank the person for the card, take time to look and read it and respond appropriately. This little ritual places value on the card which actually represents the client and the company. Makes good sense to me. Business cards should represent value (to the person and to the business). 

I see no value in collecting business cards like baseball cards as there is no prize for who gets the most. For years I made a collection of President business cards. I wanted all the cards I could get of Presidents and CEOs with the vision that someday my card would, also, read same. The vision materialized, but I used the title Managing Director instead of President. Same value. Another big thing I like to do after the meeting is write a short note or two about the meeting on the back of the card to enhance the follow up "thank you." I have a special passion for personal photos on business cards, but that is a story for another day. Do I sound too structured to you? Do you find value in your business cards? Let me know your view? -Betty Otte, SCORE Orange County View more posts by Betty

Betty Otte


i love to make business cards

i love to make business cards at home, you can make a nice one by just using an inkjet printer`-.

This is a wonderful opinion.

This is a wonderful opinion. The things mentioned are great
and needs to be appreciated by everyone.

Hi, yes, that is where I

Hi, yes, that is where I gained my respect for the business card. There is great truth in giving it value. It is, as you say, an extension of the giver. You are spot on! Good luck with your business and don't hesitate to call your local SCORE office if you have concerns in this economy or visit for online counseling.

Very much informative

Very much informative articles ... I did visit Japan for training. In Japan the business card is viewed as a representation of the owner. Therefore proper business etiquette demands one treats the business card with respect and honor.

Hi, I was somewhat amused by

Hi, I was somewhat amused by your comment that it would be necessary to write an article about business card etiquette and found your analogy about elbows on the table to be very appropriate. The sad news is that both of these behaviors need to be taught. It really takes people like you to role model because adults learn by seeing and doing. Etiquette books have not been on the top ten list for several years!
Happy new year 2009 and keep up the good work. Sounds like you and your company are truly on the right track.

Betty This was a great


This was a great article. No, I do not find you to be too structured. I most definitely find value in business cards, for me that is another contact which could lead to another client. It is surprising you would have to write an article advising how to have proper professional manners. One would think this would be common sense and an understood etiquette practiced in doing business.

Understanding business etiquette allows you to feel comfortable in your dealings with friends, colleagues, customers or clients. Knowing what to do and say in the right places will help build trust and open lines of communication. Business card etiquette is somewhat like dinner etiquette. When keeping your elbows off the table, the reward you hope for is an invitation back for another dinner. However, when minding your business card manners a potential part of your income is at stake.

Laurice Hewitt

Hi Betty, thanks for the idea

Hi Betty, thanks for the idea to keep the back of the card blank for notes. I am sending a new batch to print for the 1st time for our SEO Small business this weekend!! Perfect timing.

I would love to hear how you feel about the business card vs. the website with respect to effectiveness in networking?? Now there is so much on the net, is the business card effective for ecommerce or internet-based businesses??

Thanks for the other comments as well. Good stuff!!

Hi, Peggy: thank you for your

Hi, Peggy: thank you for your kind words and sharing your approach to the use of cards during networking. I really like your idea of scanning the cards you keep. I have different folders for different projects and the act of scanning would make my life easier and much less cluttered.

Hi, Print Marketing: I like

Hi, Print Marketing: I like your comment about the P in product is for people. You are right about people buy from people they like and that is why networking is so important. It is an inexpensive, but extremely important way to build relationships and that important trust factor.

Hi, Carl: having the same

Hi, Carl: having the same thing happen to you helps us remember what not to do. It is so important to make the card valuable. It is the one item that helps keep you connected with the new prospect. That is why I have talked for years about the importance of having your photo on the card. I met someone for a second time at a function Saturday night and because she had her photo on her card which she had given me previously, I was able to easily remember her name and company. Really works.

Hi, Stacey: you bring up a

Hi, Stacey: you bring up a great point. I am always talking marketing at networking meeting finding out what others are using and how successful it has been. I then share what we have been doing at SCORE, but more importantly, I write down new marketing ideas and it is a fantastic way to keep up with what is new. Is a good reason to send a short thank you note as follow up, also.

I agree 100% with taking

I agree 100% with taking notes on business cards. Also, if the person mentions an issue of some sort, It is also a good idea to make a note of that as well so you can see if somehow you can provide a quick resolution. For instance, if they mention having trouble finding office space, and you know of someone renting space, you can shoot them an email with your landlord-friend's information.

This does not quite fall under "etiquette", but using the back of your own card helps others remember you better. It helps with their etiquette. I recommend including information that helps market your business or that somehow makes the card a keeper. Calendars expire, so I wouldn't recommend them; your card might get tossed when the year's over.

Hi Betty I think the person

Hi Betty
I think the person that did that with the card was very wrong
and i myself wouldn"t do that i know how you feel because it
happen to me at a networking event and that person was very rude to and pushy to i finaly hade to tell them to stop calling and leave me alone

Business card Etiquette. If

Business card Etiquette. If someone throws his/her business card on a table, s/he needs "business etiquette". The P in product stands for "people". People buy from people they like, which is why it is good to be well mannered.

Hi, Peggy: thank you for

Hi, Peggy: thank you for your kind words and sharing your approach to the use of cards during networking. I really like your idea of scanning the cards you keep. I have different folders for different projects and the act of scanning would make my life easier and much less cluttered.
Thank you again for your business card insight.

Hi Betty, great article. No,

Hi Betty, great article. No, you're not too structured. Going around at events passing out cards is not the way to build a business. That is not relationship building.

And any networking expert will tell you to always review the card, comment, write note on it right then so you'll remember what you talked about or what promise you made (this is why it's important not to have coating on back of people can write on it). Then put the card away, keeping your business cards and the ones you collect in two different places.

When I get back to my office, I go through the (very few) cards that I collected, do whatever I said I'd do, scan the cards that I want to keep, trash all of them...can't stand a pileup.

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