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The etiquette of business cards

givingabusinesscard37880902.jpgYou may be surprised to learn that business cards have a long history. They originated as trade cards in 17th century England. These "trade cards" were used both as advertising and as maps as there was no formal street numbering system in London at the time. Today business cards are still used as advertising as well as a convenient way to present a business' contact information.

Business cards have become a staple of today's business world but many people are still unsure of exactly what should be on a business card and more important when it should be used. With the ease of printing up business cards (you can design your own easily online) it seems that everyone has one. However for the business professional it is crucial to realize that your business card is viewed as an extension of yourself and if you want to make that great first impression (and who doesn't) you want your business card to reflect that. Here is what you should know about the etiquette of business cards-

Standard business cards are generally 2 by 3 inch rectangles of card stock with the business professional's business information, such as his or her name, the business name and address, the service or products supplied and the phone number(s), fax number(s), and website and email address/addresses printed on them. If the business card is smaller then this recommended size it can get lost easily and to big makes them gimmicky and hard to handle.

There are some important things to keep in mind about business cards these include:

  • The back of business cards is usually (but not always) blank. Remember that you are looking to make an instant impression so you should not make it difficult for the receiver of your business card to get all the information they need in an instant.

  • If you are traveling abroad for business it is good practice to have one side of your business cards translated into the language that is appropriate to the country you are visiting. (In addition you should remember that when you present such business cards, you should present the card to the recipient so that the recipient's language is face up.)

  • Business cards are most often presented to one person by another in a face-to-face exchange, (although they may also be attached to invoices and thank you cards), or even attached to a vehicle in a business card holder so passersby can help themselves to one if they are interested in the service or product advertised on the vehicle.

  • When business cards are being exchanged in person, they may be exchanged at the beginning or end of a conversation. Keep in mind that when you receive business cards, you should always look at the card and comment upon it before putting it away (preferably into a business card holder). It is considered bad manners to stuff business cards into your pockets.

  • You should check your business cards for spelling and grammatical errors several times. Better yet have another set of eyes check them as well. You do not want to give out several business cards only to find a name misspelled or a wrong address on the cards. In addition do not try to make changes on finished business cards. Simply have the cards redone and go on from there.

  • Make sure that your business cards reflect who you are. Do not make them to cutesy or humor filled unless your business is something cutesy or humor filled. If you are a business professional you want your business card to reflect that you are good at your job and your potential contact should do business with you.

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