I don’t care what people say, the business card is not going away. These are a core element of business networking. In this article, we’re going to talk about what should be on your business card and how you should treat the exchange with another person. These are etiquette guidelines meant to help you have greater success in your networking.
There are a few things you absolutely need to include on your business card.
Firstly, you need to include your name and your business’s name. The first thing people should see if who you are. For example, my business card says “Law++” in the biggest font on the card. Front and center. Under that, it says “Richard Bobholz” and “Senior Managing Attorney” so people know my business, who I am, and what I do there. Currently I’m the only attorney, so the title isn’t as important because I am Law++.
Secondly, you need your email address. Right now, email is the most used form of contact in business networking. Therefore, if you don’t put an email address on your card, many people will simply not contact you even if they were good contacts or even customers.
Thirdly, you need to list a phone number. Yeah, I get it if you don’t want unsolicited phone calls, but some people use the phone as their primary contact method. You’d be disregarding people that could otherwise be decent connections if you don’t list your phone number.
The number one argument for not listing your phone number or your email is wanting to avoid spam and unsolicited contact. I get it. I get dozens of phone calls every day from scams, cold-callers, and others I have no interest in talking to. If you run a business, that’s part of the deal. Instead of hiding your number or email, just don’t respond to those you don’t want to respond to.
If you don’t include contact information, the perception you’re giving is you don’t want people to contact you. As a business owner, that’s probably not the perception you want to give off.
Finally, if you have something that sets you apart, include that if you can. Mission statements, flat rate pricing, or unique business practices can be great additions to your card. However, you don’t want to put too much information on your card! A cluttered card can be unattractive for people you meet.
Additionally, your card should generally be a standard size. People put these into their wallets and business card cases. If yours doesn’t fit, it’s less likely going to fit into their follow up process. The one main exception I give to this is for graphic designers. If you’re a graphic designer, your card should be really well designed. This is your opportunity to make your first impression.
When Do You Exchange Business Cards?
When you exchange business cards depends on what situation you’re in. The spectrum runs from purely business events to purely social events. For example, at a business networking event, you should exchange business cards right away. “Hi I’m Richard [hands business card]. What do you do?” That’s easy.
In a social situation, you should generally wait until (1) the person asks for your business card or (2) the person says something about wanting to contact you. In this circumstance, it’s easy to just have a couple cards in your wallet to hand to the person nonchalantly. Your intention should always match the circumstances. There’s no need to hand out cards to everyone at church. That said, there’s nothing wrong with giving your card to someone who requests it at church.
Taking Notes on a Business Card
In some cultures, defacing a business card is taboo. In the United States business culture, that’s not the case. If there’s room on a card, you should definitely take notes. On the same topic, you should leave enough room on your card that a potential contact can take some notes about you.
Note: If someone writes on your card, there’s a much higher probability they’re going to want to follow up with you. Conversely, if they crumple it up, they’re probably not going to call.
The etiquette rule about business cards is this:
- Cards should include your name, business, and contact information.
- Exchange them when it is appropriate for the situation you’re in.
- Take notes to help remember important details about your meeting.
Hopefully with these etiquette tips you’ll be better armed to have success in your business networking endeavors.