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business card etiquetteBusiness card etiquette is part of your professional image package. How your card looks, and how you give and receive business cards gives an impression of you.

You’ve likely attended an event and there’s someone there who thinks it’s a contest to see how many cards he or she can give. Likely, there is no conversation or relationship developed before the card is shoved in your direction. You don’t want to be this person! It turns people off.

When your business card etiquette is exemplary, it puts you in a positive light. When it seems pushy, it diminishes your professionalism.

Here are some tips for polishing your business card etiquette.


  • When to give

Never give a card early on in a first encounter at a business social or business lunch. Wait until the end of the conversation or end of the meal before exchanging cards for follow-up. This gives you time to have a few moments of conversation and develop rapport before the exchange of cards.

  • How to give

Extend the card with the print facing the recipient. The recipient should not have to turn the card around to read it. If you initiate the exchange, ask permission, “May I give you my card?” Note: It is not proper protocol for a junior level executive to request a card from a senior level executive. Of course, the junior executive should give a card if the senior executive initiates the exchange.

  • How to Receive

When you receive someone’s card, think of it as a gift. Hold it with both hands if possible. Then, never stash the card away without first looking at it for a moment. This shows respect to the person and their rank, status and position. It’s also nice to make a comment about the card. “Oh, I see your office is located over by the lake shore! I’m sure you have some amazing views!” Then place the card in your coat pocket, briefcase, or handbag. Men should never place a card in the back trouser pocket as this is offensive in some cultures.

Finally, here are some additional Dos and Don’ts for good business card protocol!

Dos and Don’ts

  • Always – keep your cards in a professional-looking case.

  • Do – take plenty of cards to a business social.

  • Do – order new cards when your contact information changes.

  • Don’t – cross out outdated contact information and write in the new information.

  • Don’t – give a dog-eared or soiled card. It’s just not impressive!

Good business etiquette includes using good business card etiquette. These tips on how to give and receive business cards are easy to use and will help you convey consummate professionalism!

You may also like to read How to Introduce Yourself to Others at Networking Events and Business Socials.

Do you need new business cards? Here’s my go-to place for excellent quality, value and customer service!

Rachel Wagner is a licensed business etiquette consultant, trainer, speaker and one-on-one coach. Her Oklahoma-based business etiquette firm, Rachel Wagner Etiquette and Protocol, provides business etiquette training and professional development for a variety of industries in Oklahoma and nationally. For more information, you may visit her website www.EtiquetteTrainer.com.