In different cultures, the practice of handing out business cards varies. What applies in the freewheeling United States might not apply in the tradition-bound Asian countries of Japan and China. In fact, even the color and design of your business card holders play an important role in doing business in these countries!
Liberal United States
When you deal with fellow Americans, you will notice that business cards are treated liberally. You can just shove them in your pocket or wallet, without even glancing at them! However, if you wish to make a better impression, you can follow certain things.
– You should whip out your business card holder and hand out your business cards only when the other person requests you or if you are engaged in a business discussion.
– You have to refrain from asking a higher-ranked person’s card unless that person asks for your card first or if you were introduced by a third party.
– You have to respect someone’s card much as you want your card to be respected by the other person. You have to read and study the card, even for just a moment. Wait until you can dispose of it discreetly, if you wish to do so.
When in China, or in Japan for that matter, you should carry double-sided business cards at all times. One side should have English-language information while the other side has Chinese-language (or Japanese-language) information. You are well advised to consult reputable translation companies to ensure that your cards meet local cultural standards.
Your double-sided cards are necessary because it would be strange and clumsy to have two separate business card holders with you at all times!
When exchanging business cards, always remember these pointers to show your respect:
– You have to give and receive business cards with both hands outstretched.
– You have to either hold the card for some time or place the cards on the table. You have to avoid immediately putting the cards inside your business card holders lest you be seen as ill-mannered.
– You have to present the cards according to status, with higher-ranking personalities given your first priority in handing out your card. Do your research first before going to a meeting.
– You have to avoid too much white in your business card holders and business cards. White is the color of mourning; you will do better with red cards.
Big in Japan
Like the Chinese, Japanese treat business cards with respect. You will be well advised to avoid typical American brashness in this area if you wish to seal the deal. You should also hand out double-sided business cards in Japan. Here are a few more pointers:
– When you receive and give business cards, you have to do so with both hands and slightly bow while doing it.
– Like in China, make sure that you present the card with its Japanese side showing up so that the recipient can read it immediately, without need of turning the card around.
– You have to study the cards, make a mental note of the names, and then you can put away in your business card holders. Or better yet, lay all the cards on the table so that you can distinguish who’s who, especially during a first meeting.
Just remember all these and you will be fine in both Asian and American environments.