Keeping your professional business cards on hand is a “must” when it comes to reinforcing a strong first impression. A professional business card is not only an essential tool in your executive tool box, but will positively influence how you are perceived by clients and business associates.
Purchase the best quality card you can afford. Don’t skimp on paper stock or design. Your business card should reflect your personal image and attention to detail. Be selective in your choice of font and the size of business card; an odd shape or creative design may be unique, but difficult for others to find or store in their “Don’t Toss” drawer.
Be concise with the information provided. While you may be tempted to list off all of your stellar qualifications, save it for your website. Offer only the most pertinent information, including your company name, your first and last name, job title and contact information ( to include website or blog).
Don’t confuse a business card with a coupon for a free burger. Every introduction does not require a business card exchange. Unless you have made a strong connection, or discussed a potential follow up conversation, keep your business card in your pocket or purse. Handing out your business card to everyone that walks by sends the message you are desperate for business, or peddling a free product.
Ask before your offer. Before you hand out a business card, it’s a polite gesture to ask, “May I give you my business card and follow up with you next week?” You have a better chance of reaching the other person in the future if you make the follow up call yourself, rather than waiting for someone to reach out to you.
Store your business card properly. Keep your cards in an attractive, preferably leather, card case. Discard any cards that have been soiled, dented in the middle or bent at the corners. Never hand out a card that has been held together with a rubber band or has been floating around the bottom of your purse or briefcase. This sends the wrong message about the level of importance you put into your work, which could deter potential clients.
Remember your business card etiquette. When someone hands you a business card, it’s proper etiquette to take a few seconds to look at the card and repeat his or her name. Carefully put the card someplace specific, such as the side of your portfolio pocket or in your own business card case, the opposite side of where you keep your own cards. A small zipper coin case is often the perfect size to hold business cards you have collected at a networking event. The goal is to show respect for the person and the business card that was given to you.
Put thought into your follow-up. The best time to send a follow-up email or note is within a few days of the initial meeting. Keep in mind that he or she may have met countless others over the course of the event, so a thoughtful prompting of your meeting and conversation is always welcome. For example, “It was so nice to meet you at [event name here] recently…I especially enjoyed discussing our mutual admiration of [topic here]. “ Keep your email short and friendly, with a call to action.