business cards, networking cards, networking, personal brand, reputation, career management, career security, career, job hunt,

One of the first things you hear when you are in transition is that your best opportunities in finding your next job are through networking.

The next thing you learn is that you need to have a networking or business card to let people know what you are looking for. There is a lot of good information on what you should have on your card, as well as what you should avoid on your card.

However, business card etiquette when receiving business cards is often over looked.

I was lucky enough to launch and shape my career in Japan. Part of what I learned in Japan is that the business card is not only a representation of your professional image; it is an extension of you. If you keep this in mind, you will avoid some potentially serious faux pas, and you will make a more positive impression when networking.

Here are my 7 business card etiquette that will improve your networking:

  1. When receiving a business card, DO NOT put it away without looking at it.

    It amazes me how many people receive a card, and never bother to even take a glance at it; they just put it in their pocket. This demonstrates a complete lack of interest in the person you networking with. It also implies that the card is likely to end up on a pile of accumulated cards that never receive any follow-up.

  2. Read the card

    Take time to read the card. As an alternative to point one above, taking time to read the card demonstrates value and interest in the person you are networking with. Your fellow networker took the time to make the card, take the time to read it. They many not catch it on a conscious level, but reading the card will enhance your engagement and positively impact how you are remembered.

  3. Say the name on card out loud

    I don’t know about you, but I have a difficult time remembering names. When someone says their name, I am likely to forget it in a matter of seconds. I suspect there are other networkers who are challenged with remembering names. We all learn and remember things differently, but the more ways we can input the information to our brain, the better we remember. First hearing their name, then reading it, then saying it just re-enforces it. Finally it is an additional way to demonstrate respect and value of the individual you are networking with.

  4. Comment on the card

    When reading the card, make a comment or two. Again this shows interest, and facilitates engagement. Comment on the color scheme, design, skills, title or anything on the card that catches your attention.

  5. Write notes on the card

    This also facilitates engagement, demonstrates interest, and makes follow-up much easier. Not only write event and date of meeting, but write something memorable from the conversation that you can refer to when following up. If they are looking for an introduction that you can facilitate, write it down. If they can help you with something, write it down.

  6. Follow-Up

    Use notes written on the card to follow-up ASAP. The longer you wait, the less likely you are to follow-up, and the less likely you are to be remembered. Following up quickly reflects on how you communicate professionally, and how you value their relationship.

  7. Do not use the card as a cleaning utensil

    You might think that this is a joke, but I have seen it. At networking events, symposiums, and workshops I have seen people take business cards that they just receive to clean their laptop key board, clean their nails, and clean crumbs off a table. This is just plain rude and completely disrespectful to the person who’s card you are using.

Some additional Insight:

When networking with Japanese, do not write on the card. As I mentioned earlier, Japanese view the card as an extension of their person, and writing on the card is defacing it and devaluing them.

Since, in American business culture, we often write notes on business cards, when networking, I usually bring a pocket note pad that I can easily write notes on when networking with a Japanese business person. You can then write the notes on the card at a later time to keep it all in one place, or put the notes into your contact data base.

Let me know your thoughts about the etiquette of receiving business cards. What do you suggest?