Business Card Etiquette

Do you have a business card? Even as a student you should have a professional means of providing your contact information to potential employers and new connections.

What should a business card look like?
Keep it simple. Avoid using an abundance of graphics, lines, complicated fonts, and colors. Many business card printers have a variety of templates that you can choose from, but not all templates are created equal. Choose a template with a clean, clear design. The card should feature your name, school name (in written text or logo), degree and concentration, graduation date, email address, and phone number. You can also include your address, personalized LinkedIn url, and a Twitter handle or blog url, if the account/blog is professionally-focused. Keep your cards in a case to ensure that they stay in good condition.

How should I use my business cards?
Rather than giving out your cards indiscriminately, it’s better to offer a card as you are wrapping up a conversation with a new contact. In some situtations, such as at meetings, it is common for professionals to exchange cards upon introduction. In this case, keep cards out in front of you so that you can refer to meeting participants by name. It is generally polite to ask to give or receive a card, for example: “It was so nice to meet you. Can I leave you with my card?” or “I’d like to keep in touch; do you have a card that I could take with me?” If someone offers you their card, it is polite to give one of yours back. If you are speaking with senior executives or officers, it is best to wait for them to request your card. When receiving another person’s business card take a moment to look at the card, don’t just stuff it in your pocket, and never throw away another person’s card at the location in which you received it.

You may want to make notes on the cards you receive in order to remember where you met someone or what you talked about. However, in some countries it is considered disrespectful to write on a business card; if you are exchanging cards internationally, do some research on business card etiquette for the region. Always utilize the business cards you receive to follow up with new contacts. Request a LinkedIn connection, send an article relevant to the conversation you had, or simply send an email to thank a new contact for taking the time to speak with you.

Make sure to always have a few business cards with you. You never know when you may meet a valuable contact!


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