The ultimate guide to business cards: From etiquette to shape and size

World-wide business

If you’re travelling the globe, there are a few things to remember.

Firstly, think really carefully about the colours you’re going to use. If you intend to do business with overseas companies, then you need to find out what colours mean to them as well. You could also consider making separate ones for the countries you visit.?This will show how much effort you have gone to and adds a little personal touch to it.

For example, green represents high-tech in Japan, death in South America and luck in the Middle East. Red is good luck in China, a sign of danger in Europe, death in Turkey and mourning in the ivory Coast. Similarly, yellow is the colour of mourning in Mexico while being a sign of strength in Saudi Arabia.

However, it’s the etiquette in each of these countries that is absolutely key.

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In China, you present your own card before asking for someone else’s. It’s also proper to do so with both hands, with the text facing the person in question. It is also courtesy to actually take your time to study the card once you’ve received it. Never write on it!

It’s also important to highlight any important facts about your companies, such as whether you’re the oldest company, the greenest, the first to use any type of technology, etc.

Much like in China, it is only appropriate to ask for a card in Korea after presenting your own. But that’s where things get tricky. Hand it over with both hands, but then, upon receiving it with both hands as well, drop your left hand while the right presents the card. Business Cards Review then suggests that ?after the card is taken, take your left hand and grab your right arm above the wrist?.

If you’re receiving a card from someone higher ranked thank you, then it’s essential to nod your thanks upon receiving one. It’s also considered rude if you study the card for too long.

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The handing over of business cards is seen as a type of ceremony in Japan. Everyone has their own business card, it’s that important. Business cards should always be received with both hands, but it’s ok to give with only one hand. And make sure your cards are in impeccable condition. That spare one you always have stuffed in your pocket? Don’t give anyone that one.

They also put a lot of emphasis on status, so your business title is essential! And, if you’re about to have a meeting, place everyones business cards on the table as an indicator of which order everyone will be sitting in.

If you’re travelling to the Middle East, once again, present the card with your right hand. However, make sure you have a side translated into Arabic. This should be the side facing up when you hand it over.

When it comes to India, any degree or honour should be listed on your business card. Always use your right hand to receive and give business cards.

In South Africa, you hand your business card over with your right hand, where you should take the time to store any received card properly instead of cramming it into a pocket. X Print notes that ?cards should be in English on one side and your language on the other side?. They also suggest that making a brief comment of their card is seen as appropriate behaviour.

In Columbia, make sure you present your card by holding it at one corner with your thumb and index finger. Don’t cover up any information when you hand it over.
In Western Europe it’s important to never merely put your cards out on a table for people to take. Always give hem out individually, and only to those you see as a potential client or contact.

Treat US clients like you would UK ones in terms of business cards. It’s quite an informal process and you can pocket it straight away.

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