Business Card Etiquette

Make sure your business cards are sparkling clean and not worn. Never hand someone a dirty or bent business card. You should think if your card as an extension of yourself. You wouldn’t show up to the event in dirty or wrinkled clothes would you?

To prevent your cards from getting too beat up, keep them in a case. If you have one with your Alma Mater on the cover use it. This is a great invitation for others who went to your school to strike up a conversation with you. Many universities sell or give away luggage tags and business card holders to alumni because they want you to continue making connections with felloe alums after you’ve left campus. Of course, they don’t mind the free advertising either. Contact your alumni relations office to find out if you can have a business card holder sent to you. Some schools may charge a small fee.

If your company does not provide you with business cards you can easily have your own personal cards printed to hand out at networking events. There are several online services that charge only a small fee for 250–500 cards. If you take advantage of one of these services, do not put your company logo on the cards. Some companies have very strict rules about branding and you do not want to get into trouble for simply trying to go the extra mile.

Look at each person’s card before you store it away. You do this for two reasons. First, this will help you remember the person who gave you the card. Second, it is s sign of respect. It is rude to take someone’s card and put it away before you look at it. If you think of a compliment to extend, or come up with a question to ask, that’s even better. Remember, a business card is an extension of the person giving it to you.

If you’ve offered to send them something, said you’d call, or discussed something of interest, you might make a note on the back of their card so you don’t forget. You also want to remember to contact the correct person about the particular topic you spoke about. There is nothing more embarrassing than contacting someone when you think they are someone else. It is also very difficult—sometimes impossible—to recover from that particular networking faux pas.