The smart businessperson should never be without at least a few cards in a jacket pocket—and the newer-looking they are, the better. You never know when you might need a card (at a dinner in a restaurant, say, or sitting next to someone in a baseball stadium's bleachers), and they should be in perfect condition when you present them. Stationery and department stores sell business card holders that prevent smudging and creasing.
The business card of today
- Invites a new business acquaintance to get in touch with you
- Defines your position and responsibilities (e.g., Vice-President, Sales)
- Provides a number of ways to reach you: mailing address, business telephone, cell phone, email address, and sometimes your assistant’s telephone number
How to hand out business cards, and to whom?
- If you’re reasonably sure you’ll be dealing with someone in the future, offer your card and ask for one in return. Probably the one exception is when you encounter a top executive who clearly outranks you; if a senior person wants your card, she will ask for it, or she will give you her card if she wants you to have it.
- When given a card, don’t just snatch it and jam it into your pocket. Take a moment to look at it, perhaps complimenting its design. Then slip it into your wallet, card case, or date book.
- When giving cards to more than one person, offer each person a card rather than presenting a fistful.
- Offering your card privately to someone at a social event is perfectly fine—but hold off on detailed business talk until another day. Don’t pop out your card in the middle of a dinner that has nothing to do with business; if you want to present your card, wait until you’ve left the table and are saying your good-byes.