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Who would have thought that the humble and simple business card could have a business etiquette of it’s own? Get this etiquette wrong and you are likely to offend!

When you handover your business card, you are giving permission to be contacted by the other person. (You are not giving permission to go onto their mailing list!) Some people when networking literally go business card hunting and gathering. There is no benefit to coming back from an event with over 100 business cards if you haven’t taken the time to build a relationship with the other person. All this does is help increase a printer’s business…

If you have enjoyed meeting someone, and want to stay in touch with them, then ask them for their business card. For example:

“I’ve enjoyed talking to you today, and would like to stay in touch with you. Do you have a business card?”

Most people when asked for their business card, will naturally offer up theirs in return. Don’t make the mistake of asking for someone’s business card at the start of the conversation, as this gives the impression that all you are interested in is their business. If someone asks for your business card, and you don’t feel you have made a connection, it is OK to ask for them how they will use the data on your card. This is the point to request, that they request your wishes to minimise unnecessary e-mail and not add you to their mailing list.

When you have been given someone’s business card – that isn’t a bland corporate business card, do find something to complement them about the card. Most business owners will have played a part in the design process and be naturally proud of their business card.

After you have met someone, use their business card to jot down some notes about them. Before you write on someone’s business card, check that it is acceptable to do so. In some cultures, for example, China, it is considered rude to write on someone else’s business card.

Tip: Write down on a person’s business card if they are happy to be signed up to their mailing list, and connect with you on LinkedIn and/or Twitter.

What are your tips for business card etiquette?