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Business Card Etiquette



As we continue to move away from COVID-19 lockdown, the American people are going on interviews and getting back to work. Now is a good time to brush up on business card etiquette. These 10 tips will give you the confidence needed when giving and receiving this all-important staple in a person’s life.


1. Keep your card with you and always have them available. If you are attending a networking lunch, this is important, but even if you are out to dinner with your spouse your cards should be easily accessible. It looks unprofessional when digging around your purse to locate a card. It gives the impression of disorganization and not performing at the top of your game. Forgetting your card or appearing disorganized can also mean missed opportunities.


2. If attending a social or business event, only offer your card if you are asked for your card. It comes off too salesy if you hand them out unsolicited.


3. Cards should be protected. The best way to do this is find a case that fits neatly in the pocket of your purse. (Side note: When it comes to the size of your card consider the audience in which you mingle. Traditional calling card size is 3.5”x2”. When you hand another person your card, they might choose to store it in their own personal case. If what you hand them is an unusual size, this is not possible, and your information will be shoved into a pocket or forgotten. The other way to think of this is use your card to garner attention. Going with a square instead of a rectangle will ensure your card stands out among the others. Just consider both of these points when deciding which direction to choose.)


4. When you are asked for your card, it is polite to ask for theirs. Since we do not want to give our card without being asked, this is one way you can get your card into their hands. Ask for their card. In return, they will ask for yours (…usually. It is standard practice, after all).


5. I am often asked why we have business cards when we can just pull out our phone and enter someone’s information. A business card will always make a better impression than a phone. A card can be designed to represent your uniqueness or professionalism. It can be designed to show the value you add. Your card will also increase the odds that the person will not forget you. Once you become just another contact in their phone, will they remember your name? A card also allows you to write a personal note on the back (if appropriate). A phone, well, is just a phone.


6. As mentioned above, it is sometimes appropriate to write a note on the back of the card you hand to another person. Maybe the two of you talked about the book you just released. They ask for your card so they can make a purchase. You choose to write the title along with a big Thank You. It is another way to make you stand out and remind the person why they now possess your card. The practice of writing on someone else’s card should be limited, though. Depending on what notes you are putting down, you might come across as salesy. (Side note: In some countries, it is considered rude to write on a business card. The card is considered a living representation of that person, and to deface it is viewed as an insult. In the U.S. this is acceptable, but if dealing with a foreign national be aware of this fact.)


7. Present your card with your right hand or both hands. Also receive a card with your right hand or both hands. The right hand is considered the “hand of discretion.” This is more important in other cultures, but it is good practice in the U.S. as well. (This is difficult for me to remember – Left-Handed Lisa Lou!)


8. When handing someone your card, present it where they can read it. Face up and with no fingers covering important information.


9. When receiving a card, read what is printed and make a comment about the card. “I like the weight of this card.” “Your logo is very nice.” Commenting on the card serves the same purpose as giving someone a compliment.


10. Keep your card updated. Crossing out information and adding a handwritten phone number never leaves a good impression. Make sure the style of the graphics on your card are not outdated.


First impressions matter. Another person will form an opinion of you within 2 seconds. This is true whether they meet you or only see you from across a room. Some might say this is superficial, but it is the way our minds work. If you need to purchase a new leather journal, and you see one without scratches and another with scratches, which one will you choose? There is nothing wrong with the scratched book. It was just mishandled in shipping, but you will purchase the one in better shape. If you are house shopping, the home that has curb appeal will stay on your list. The home that is poorly maintained in front will be eliminated. Why? The house may be great on the inside, but poor upkeep on the outside has scared you away. You will make assumptions about all other aspects of the property based on that first impression.


Our business card is no different. It is often the first impression we give someone about ourselves or our business. It is considered an extension of who we are, and if my calling card is going to speak on my behalf, I want it to scream, “Remember me. I am worth it!”


Together with you,

Lisa Lou

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