Archive for August 2014

Yes, Business Card Etiquette Matters

August 28, 2014
Exchange of business cards at a function in Japan.

Exchange of business cards at a function in Japan.

Handing Out Your Business Cards Is About Etiquette

Whether you are in business and aspire to succeed or you are hoping to have a successful and lucrative career, chances are you have a business card. It is not a luxury, it is essential.

Believe it or not, using a business card successfully is not just about reaching in your pocket and pulling out a grubby, dog-eared card. Rather,  getting the most milage from that small 3.5”x 2” piece of real estate requires a little bit of finesse. It requires that you learn proper business card etiquette, not just for the US, but keeping other countries in mind, as well.

The truth is, it doesn’t take much to learn the proper way to move the business card from your hand to that of a prospective customer or business colleague.

Here are a few pieces of essential information to keep in mind as you proceed to exchange cards:

  • Your business card is about your personal brand and your business brand. Cards today can be inexpensively made, but still make a positive impact. Just be sure your design makes a statement about your business and accurately reflects the industry you are in.  At a minimum it should contain your name, your business address, email address and phone number.
  • Store your card in an elegantly designed, yet serviceable business card holder. Keeping your cards in a holder prevents you from passing out dirty, smudged cards – a definite no-no.
  • When you first receive a business card from someone, be interested in the design and information on the card. Make a comment about the card. The exception to this is if you are in Korea where it is considered impolite to study the business card. Rather you accept the card and put it away.
  • Wait for someone in a superior  position to yours  to offer his or her card before you offer yours.
  • Don’t break into a conversation between two or more people to give someone your business card. That is rude and pushy.
  • Respect the power of your card and be selective about when and where you give it out. Social events are not usually the place to hand out business cards. If someone is insistent, find a way to discreetly hand it over. Definitely don’t give out your cards at any religious ceremonies, funerals or weddings and don’t include them in sympathy cards or celebratory cards.
  • Do not pull business cards out of a back pocket or fumble in your purse to come up with a card. Both actions are distracting and shows a lack of respect for the card. Remember, you have a business card holder for that.
  • When handing over that elegantly designed card, use your right hand. In Japan and Korea you will actually use both hands.
  • Give the cards out with the front side up. If you have translation on the card and you are in another country, hand over your card with the translated side face up. That shows interest and respect for the country you are trying to do business in.
  • Be selective when giving out your cards. Don’t just willy, nilly pass out cards. Your goal is really to get the information about the other person so that you are able to follow-up.
  • In many cultures the exchange of business cards kicks off the meeting. In the US, passing out business cards can happen at the beginning or the end of a meeting.

Business card etiquette matters because it reinforces the fact that you are the best person to do business with. Not only does your card reflect your brand, the way you handle that card is a reflection on your business.

Ultimately, business card etiquette does matter, so much so that in Japan they have a word for passing out cards – meishi. While the US doesn’t have a name or treat it is as a ceremony, it is still important to use proper business card etiquette when interacting with the prospective customer or business. And if you are in a foreign country, respect the customs of the country you are in. Know the proper business card etiquette.

I invite you to leave comments about what you have experienced as you hand out your business cards, particularly if you have international experiences to share.

As always…

Be Exceptional!

                                                         Audrey

Is There Value in the Business Card?

August 26, 2014

PicBowlof Business cardsIMG_9565

 

One of your most powerful and valuable business tools can fit in the palm of your hand and can easily go where you go. That tool would be your business card.

The business card has a few functions that all add up to growing your business. When used correctly and methodically, while low cost to design and print, the value and the impact on your business can be high and the results can be phenomenal.

 

At first glance, here is what that small, 3.5” x 2” card can do for you:

1. It helps people remember you, especially if you have a design that is  eye-catching, matches the tone of your business or simply an unusual color. But beware,  while odd shapes may seem like a great idea, they may be hard for your contacts to store in their business card holder, so think strategically before you decide to use an unusual shape. Additionally, some schools of thought encourage you to add your picture to your business card. This seems to be a common practice among real estate professionals. Look at a few examples, then decide.

2. It gives potential customers a way to contact you. Your card should include your name, the name of your business, along with your phone number, web address and any social media information you would like to share. If you have a brick and mortar business, the physical address is crucial. If you don’t, the physical address may not be as needed. Don’t forget the back of the card. You may find it useful for additional design element or additional information about your business.

3. The business card promotes your business. Be creative with them, but be sure your business style and your business cards are a match. For example, if you are a lawyer, you wouldn’t choose a frivolous and funny card design, not even if you only represented comediennes. Also, it is important that your business card match any other promotional material that you have.

4. Business cards are easily transferrable to your digital database, either using apps such as Evernote which allow you to almost instantly download information from the card to your contacts or by hiring a virtual assist or student to transfer your information. At the very least, set aside some time each week to manage your list.

5. When you are networking,  bring added value to your own business by also sharing the business cards of noncompeting, but comparable businesses. For example, I can share the business information of some of my vendors, such as lawyers, that I would readily recommend to the business owner. You can encourage others to do the same for you by giving them additional business cards.

6. Businesses with a scannable QR code  links back to your website, making it easier for your potential customer to learn more about your business.

7. Use you business card as a print ad when you eliminate additional design efforts by  choosing a card design that can easily convert to an ad.

8. Your business card is a portable, versatile part of the brand of your business. I can’t stress enough that you should not skimp on the quality of your paper or your design.

I want to note here that you can use a digital form of business card, but nothing beats the printed card for versatility and use as a potential conversation piece.

Your business card is part of your overall business solution. Without them, it can prove difficult to expediently pass along pertinent, identifying information to potential customers. Just remember that unless you follow-up, your business card will not be quite as valuable and certainly not as effective as it could be. The fact is, there is a good chance you and your business will be forgotten and that card end up in the trash. So, get the most value by putting in the time to make the followup contact.

Please don’t forget to add the new contact to your data base. The card you receive from them will be useless unless you have added them to your contact list.

Business cards are a tool, but you must do the work for that tool to be of any benefit or any value to your business. After all, a hammer is a great tool, too, but only if you pick it up and drive the nail in the wall. Don’t underestimate the value of your business card.

Please share with me  how your business card is helpful to you.

‘Til the next time –

Be Exceptional!