When is the Right Time to Give Your Business Card or to Ask for One?

While you’re at a networking event, at some point in your conversation with  another person or with other people if you’re talking a group, you are going to want to be able to give out your Business Card to them.

 

Business man and woman shaking hands.

 

The question faced by most people is often  when is it appropriate to do so?

Now there are different rules of etiquette and customs in various societies. For example the way the Japanese handle business cards is very different than the way Americans do. In this article, I’m going to explain what is generally accepted as part of the Western world when it comes to asking for and giving out business cards.

Not only is this rude because it assumes that the other person wants your contact information, it also is incredibly intrusive as you are entering the other person’s “personal space” without permission.

Typically, people find it rude when, upon meeting for the first time, that you shove your Business Card under their nose — and yet many people do this! They will introduce themselves and then attempt to thrust their business card into the hands of the person they just met.

Not only is this rude because it assumes that the other person wants your contact information, it also is incredibly intrusive as you are entering the other person’s “personal space” without permission.

 

To avoid this faux pas, there are two simple rules remember:

  1. If you are the one who initiated the conversation , do not ask for the other person’s business card until towards the end of the conversation.
  2. Do not give your business card unless specifically asked by the other person or if you ask them and receive permission to give your card.

 

If at any time during the conversation the other person may turn to you and ask for your card, please make sure that your cards are kept in a spot that is easily accessible.  Gentlemen, if you are wearing a jacket, make sure you keep your cards in a pocket on one side and use another pocket inside the jacket or perhaps on your shirt to store the cards from the people you have met at the event.   Ladies, you may want to keep your cards in a special spot in your purse or carry around a card case so that you aren’t fumbling looking for cards to give out.

 

business-table-lighted-city

 

Nowadays when we attend networking events, many of the younger attendees often would like to receive your contact information but they won’t carry their own business cards to offer in return. The “seasoned business” person (i.e. those of us over age 35) may tend to think they are irresponsible or not serious but please understand that this is a value/judgement call that the younger generation is making from their personal values. (They may want to conserve and save natural resources;  they may be living a minimalist lifestyle without the clutter).  Whatever their reason, respect it.

 

Instead of making judgments, offer to compromise:

  • Ask them if they have an app on their smartphone like Evernote or CamCard.  Offer them your card so that they can take a photo of it as these apps can scan and import your contact information directly into their smartphone’s contact manager.  (And don’t be offended if they give you back your card after doing it).
  • Then ask them to either text or email you their contact information right there and then, to ensure that you get it.

 

So remember, it is perfectly acceptable to ask for someone’s Business Card or to offer to give them your card.  When you do ask for it or offer yours  towards the end of the conversation, it not only  respects the other people’s time and “space” it also makes you a more effective networker.