Many important business deals are conducted during functions outside of the 8-5 world. Doing business within a global economy requires that we pay attention to other customs and protocol, including our professional calling cards. Particularly in international circles, business cards explain our place in the corporate hierarchy, so our title should be clearly stated. Have plenty of cards but be choosy about giving them out to everyone in the room as unsolicited cards will usually go into the “circular file” in short order. Always offer your card facing them, so they can immediately read it.

One high-powered business woman shared this experience:

I recently returned from an international conference of women executives where I met hundreds of women who own multimillion-dollar businesses. Naturally, I collected cards from several of them. Here’s the amazing thing I discovered about those cards: with the exception of two or three, they were all ‘same-old-same-old’. Why would these most successful individuals in the world have business cards that are as boring as a white wall?

Of course, a business card should identify YOU but also enable you to stand out from the crowd. If part of a corporation, you may have to abide by their standard design; however, if you own a business, you have the opportunity to reflect your personality on the business card and marketing materials.

When receiving cards from individuals of other countries, take them with both hands, study them, and then comment about something on the card. At least use their name and possibly a question of interest about what they do. Do not write on their cards as that is offensive to individuals from foreign countries. Keep separate paper to make notations. People in the U.S. often write a brief note on the back of cards if they want to follow up at a later time.

As always, when exchanging greetings, remember this quote from Mary Kay Ash, founder and business tycoon of Mary Kay Cosmetics, “Look at each person as if they have a sign around their neck saying, ‘Please make me feel important’!” What better time to do that than when first meeting and exchanging business cards!

Below are valid reasons to exchange cards when the individual is:
• a “potential” client or supplier
• a link to a colleague, former classmate or coworker
• someone we would like to know on a social or community level
• someone who is willing to pass our card on to another individual
• someone who needs/wants our updated information (title, phone number, etc.)
• someone who shows genuine interest in getting to know us, our products or business even better

There are different schools of thought regarding having a picture on one’s business card. Many companies have a standard design that does not allow for a photo. If in sales, real estate, service organizations or other competitive markets, a photo can distinguish us from our competitors and help everyone remember us much easier. Investigate what other successful individuals in your industry are doing.

Main point, when giving out your cards, make it all about them!!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rita Rocker is a national inspirational and educational speaker, communications and image specialist, and a career and virtual presentations coach with Transformation Academy, LLC.  She is the author of “A Guide to Marketing Yourself for Success”, and a contributing author to “The Unstoppable Woman’s Guide to Emotional Well Being -The Total Woman in Leadership and Success Guide for the Unstoppable Entrepreneur.” She has appeared on national television and radio talk shows on self-esteem and communication. A former Mrs. Nebraska and active in numerous professional organizations, Rita is on the Board of the Small Business Association of the Midlands and co-director of greater Omaha’s Affiliated Women International. Rita provides life and career-transforming programs to mature teens and adults. Contact Rita at