Business Card Basics:
If you are new to doing business in Greater China (i.e., Mainland, Taiwan, Macau & Hong Kong) it’s definitely worth learning business card etiquette; how they are handled, what they signify, and important do’s and don’ts.
First, understand that Chinese attach vastly more importance to name cards that Westerners do. Don’t judge, don’t jump to conclusions, it’s not right or wrong; it’s just the way it is in Greater China.
Second, always, always, ALWAYS have an ample supply of business cards. Running out, or not having any at all, is serious business faux pas. Don’t let that happen to you.
Third, learn these vitally important protocols that go with the exchange of business cards.
- Do give your business card to the other person with both hands (as is shown in this photo.) Use two hands, hold it stead, and imagine that you are giving something of significant value because that’s how they will see it.
- Do accept their business card with two hands, again as shown in this photo.
- Do read the card and study it, even if you have to feign interest.
- Do comment about the person’s title and/or their company. This is an excellent opportunity for a bit of flattery – don’t let it slip by.
- Do hold the card at least for a few additional moments. Demonstrate your understanding of what the name card means to that other person.
- Don’t give the card with one hand as if it is something unimportant.
- Don’t accept another business card with one hand, and don’t fail to at least look it over.
- Don’t just jam it in your pocket as if it is just another piece of paper. It may be exactly that, but don’t convey that impression to the other person.
- Don’t write on the business card. Write any notes you need to take on a separate piece of paper.
- Don’t get up at the end of a meeting and absent-mindedly leave business cards on a desk as if they are unimportant.
So this is about understanding another culture. It’s actually pretty simple, and if you “reach out” to the other side by following these protocols, you’ll demonstrate good manners, and cultural understanding.
A little business card etiquette will take you a long way.