Dos and Don'ts of Handling Business Cards

business cardsSomeone has given you a business card, either at a networking or social event, what do you do next? A business card is an invitation for future interaction, but how you treat that contact afterward will determine how responsive they will be.

Here are some dos and don'ts for handling business cards to ensure that you strengthen that initial interaction and build the relationship properly:

DO make notes on the back of the card. Write down anything that helps you remember the event, the person and the conversation.

DO follow up with a nice email. Say you enjoyed meeting them and hope to stay in touch. If you had mentioned that you would send something, a link to an article, website or a book, include that as well.

DON'T send your résumé. Unless they've already asked for it, it's presumptuous. In your follow up email, though, you can say, "If you hear of any openings, I'd be happy to forward you my resume."

DO look up your new contacts on LinkedIn. A few days after your follow up email, send an invitation to connect with you online. This expands the ways that you're able to stay in touch, and keeps your resume information at their fingertips. Be sure to change the generic default message to something more personalized. You can re-iterate how nice it was to meet them at the event, in case they need a subtle reminder.

DON'T add them to your email list. When someone gives you a card, they are giving you permission to contact them, but only on a one-on-one basis. They haven't agreed to be on your joke mailing list, blog update list or any other mass broadcasts, so don't add them.

DO organize your cards so you can find the info later. Add your new contact to your address book and toss the card or keep the card in a filing system. Some people scan cards into their computers, others use three-ring binders with plastic sleeves specifically designed to hold business cards. Personally, I use an index card box purchased at an office supply store, along with index card tabs. I write the date of the event on the tab and file the business cards behind that tab. Another alternative is to file alphabetically. Whatever system works best for you is the one to use.

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bigtime loser


March 23 2010 at 8:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Don\'t need \'em

In my business, if I need a card to introduce myself, it means that my career is over. If I accept your card it means I am about to hear all about your entire body of work in community theatre and that I willl use my contacts to get you an audition. In any case, if I did have any pull with the studio, I would put my brother-in law to work just to get him off my back. So just give me a piece of paper (with a pen) and I will sign for you. Then get on the bus and when you get back to Goonville, tell everyone what a wonderful promising conversation we had and everything that I am going to do for you.

March 18 2010 at 7:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Chuck, I hope that you didn't put the business card in a wallet in your back pocket. That would be a sign of great disrespect. You would in fact be sitting on them. A major breech of manners in Japan. Any other wallet, as in a coat wallet would be ok. Placing one's business card in a shirt pocket is prefectly respectable, by the way.

March 18 2010 at 3:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wish people would stop advertising there stupid websites on these various comment pages. Not just here but in other forums too. Most seem computer generated. Please don't waste our time anymore is is just like getting a telemarketing call at your home. No one is going to visit your page.

March 18 2010 at 1:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Johnny Mac

Never underestimate the value of a business card as a "shut up" device. As in, "Listen. I'm busy right now and I'd love to talk to you about this sometime. Here's my card. Give me a call next week, OK?"
And then pray the nuisance with an agenda gets hit by a coal train on the way home.

March 18 2010 at 1:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've been in sales for over 20 years... Generally I have a set appointment with someone interested in my service.. We always exchange cards....... I need all their information so I can prepare their proposal, spell their name and title correctly and email them a very nice thank you... Cards are important. But I do not hand them out to everyone I meet...just folks who ask..or someone I am interested in contacting later.

March 17 2010 at 10:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I usually introduce myself through my business cards but never give it to anyone that acts as though it won't be appreciated or utilized. Some may say that business cards are now outdated I believe that there is still a place in society for them as far as intros and otherwise!

March 17 2010 at 10:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It is also respectful to accept a Japanese business card with both hands. Probably true for other Asian cultures.

March 17 2010 at 9:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Perhaps in Japan, here we do as Americans, look at the card to see if interested in the company, either put it in the wallet, the side pocket of purse, we don't kill whales or dolphins legally and if the business card is of no use then in the garbage it goes.

March 17 2010 at 9:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Do you reciprocate and offer your business card? I always wondered if this was appropriate.

March 17 2010 at 8:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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