The business card (an important part of our personal and professional image) is one of the most common forms of self-promotion. Over 30 million are exchanged every day.
A simple way to polish our professional presence is to master the art of business card distribution/etiquette. Here are a few quick tips:
1. Always have business cards with you - never leave home without them. Tuck several in your wallet, purse, coat pocket, suit jacket, and briefcase.
2. Your card should always be printed on excellent card stock with a design that projects your professional image. I recommend choosing a card stock that can be written on with a pen so that new acquaintances can take notes on your card regarding your conversation. Plus, when someone requests information, such as the name of your favorite bar or restaurant, you can write jot it down on your business card.
3. Always be sure the information on your card is accurate. Never give anyone a card with crossed-out information.
3. Keep your business cards in a convenient location so that they are easily accessible from your purse, coat pocket, briefcase, portfolio, or card case.
(When attending a business function this past Friday, I kept my cards in an unzipped, outside pocket of my purse so that I could casually reach in and obtain my card without interrupting the smooth flow of conversation with my new acquaintance.)
4. Don't be too eager to distribute your cards. Walking around and passing them out like candy at a parade is considered bad form. Make your card have value. Chat with your new acquaintance to learn more about him or her. Within three to five minutes, both of you will have a sense of whether or not the exchange of business cards would be beneficial.
5. As you speak with a new acquaintance, keep his or her business card in front of you so that you can easily remember his or her name and company name, and refer to it as needed. At the conclusion of each conversation, tuck your new acquaintance's card away for safe keeping and follow-up purposes.
6. Always have a pen with you so that you can record "conversation" and "follow up" notes. To assist with your follow-up efforts, write these notes directly on each individual's business card. This will eliminate the need to carry a large notepad to your networking functions.