Having a presentable and identifiable business card is important. But equally important is how we exchange our cards. Since I partake in a lot of business networking meetings and am constantly meeting new people and potential clients, I have seen a variety of ways people pass out their business cards and how they handle cards they receive. I felt that it was time to brush up on the do's and dont's of passing out business cards.
Here's a few tips I'd like to share to improve your business networking interactions:
1) Make sure your business card is clean, has no dog-eared folds, and doesn't have any writing on it. Of course make sure that all the information is current. Just like wearing a clean and pressed outfit with no stains, so should you think about anything that you give a prospective client. You don't show up with a wrinkled shirt and expect that your prospective client take you seriously.
2) Never force your card on someone that did not ask for it. At least wait for the opportunity to arise naturally during the conversation. Even in business networking events, only offer your card if the person you are talking to seems interested in your business. Naturally, it is easier to hand out your card at a networking event and many people make it their mission to hand out their card to everyone they make eye contact with. I can recall a few people who have done that to me at networking events and the only thing those businesses reinforce was that they have no interest in my business and what I have to offer.
3) Don't hand out more than one card to the person you are speaking with. It's tacky and unprofessional and can be taken as you wanting them to hand out your card to other people. Unless you have made arrangements with this person, keep the focus on that person. Business networking events are great to make new connections but remember that businesses are run by people and people will refer you based on the impression you make with them not the number of cards they have of yours.
4) When receiving cards, treat that card with respect. If you want to jot down notes onto that card, ask the owner of the card for permission first. (In some countries, it's considered offensive to write on their business card). It is a good idea to make notes about a specific conversation or key points that you discussed with that person who gave you his/her card, but do it after you are finished speaking with them. This way, you can reconnect with them at a later date and remind them of that interesting conversation you had with them. You will be surprised at how many business owners will appreciate you remembering them.
5) When receiving cards, do not place it in your wallet that goes in your back pants pocket or randomly in your handbag. Instead, place it in your planner, or better yet, a business card case. This will show that you are organized and respectful of the things you receive. Read the card and ask any questions that might come up showing your interest in them and creating an opportunity to make it an impressionable conversation.