How to exchange Business Cards?

With our return to on-site work following the COVID-19 pandemic, we will need to refresh on the customs and practice for business meetings including the important exchange of business cards.

The exchange of the humble but important Business Card is part of the introduction process of any form of meeting, such as audit Opening Meetings and environmental consultancy. It is one that you should understand and play your part in establishing a good first impression.

This article looks at etiquette of exchanging Business Cards, which is a key part of introductory meetings despite the rise of modern alternatives to the business card, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, there is still a need to understand the etiquette of exchanging Business Cards.

Whether it is a scheduled audit, planned consultancy meeting or an initial meeting, there will at some point be an exchange of Business Cards. The exchange of business cards allows the opportunity for, both participants, to move beyond their initial discussions and opens the door on further communications and potentially mutual business in the future.

Preparation before the meeting

So, it is important to prepare by ensuring that you have a supply of Business Cards.

The basic information content for Business Cards are for the Company Name, the Name of the card holder, their Position & relevant contact options, normally, the postal address, e-mail and telephone numbers. Other local variations could be to include IDs or handles for Skype, WeChat or similar electronic communications platforms.

In some cultures, such as Asian countries, it may be that the Business Card should be printed on both sides to reflect the contents in the local language on one side and an English translation on the other side.

Even more so, some Business Cards may have a photograph of the owner, so that the recipient of the card may remember more about the person who gave them the card as they have the photograph to remember them by.

Other Business Cards formats may have QR Codes linked to the corporate website or marketing messages to promote more about the company.

These cards should be kept clean in a wallet or card case to ensure that they present the best image for you and the organisation that you represent.

If you are going to a planned meeting, you should consider the opportunity to prepare by looking up the profile of those attending the meeting in LinkedIn. If you are not doing this, others at the meeting will be. So, make sure you are prepared to know a little about the background of the people that you are likely to meet.

The Meeting

If the meeting relates to planned meeting, such as an environmental audit, Business Cards are, often exchanged at a very early stage to ensure that everyone knows each other in preparation for the audit. Additionally, the exchange of Business Cards allows the Auditor to compile a list of the attendees at the Opening Meeting & ensures that they correctly spell the Attendee’s names and correct position.

In other types of meetings, such as proposal presentations for an environmental consultancy offering, it is equally likely that early on, maybe before the meeting as formally started, the participants will already be verbally introducing themselves and following through with the offer of their business card.

If someone asks for your Business Card, then it is appropriate to offer your card & follow through by suggesting that you would value their Business Card by return to start building a rapport with that person.

If the person has not asked for your Business Card, you should make sure that the person that you have introduced yourself to, is willing to receive your Business Card. You should not assume that they want your Business Card, so don’t start off with “here’s my Business Card, give me a call or e-mail”.

Rather seek their permission by saying something like “If it would help to cement our relationship, can I offer you my Business Card?”. That gives the other person, an opportunity to decline or accept the exchange of Business Cards.

The Exchange

When it is time to exchange Business Cards, make sure that you present them correctly.

Make it an intentional act to remove your card wallet from your jacket, remove your Business Card from the wallet and present the card to the other person.

In some cultures, such as Japan, there are further considerations to always present the Business Card in both hands with the main face of the card upper most to show honour to the other person. My preference is to present my Business Card in this way as it shows that you respect your organisation through your Business Card and that you share respect with the other person in the exchange of cards.

Even in Europe and North America, Business Cards should be presented directly along the long side of the Business Card with the text facing up rather than at an angle or in a manner that could be disrespectful.

To close out the exchange, it is respectful to look at the Business Card with interest and, maybe even comment on its contents, such as:

“Your role as the Environmental Manager must bring many challenges”


“I see that you are based in the London Office not far from my offices”


The final part of the post exchange is, equally, important. You should show continued respect for the Business Card as the card embodies the status and position of the other person.

Treat it carefully, by placing it in a safe place, such as your card wallet, near to your meeting notebook or in the top pocket of your suit to show that you care about the person that you have started to form a new business relationship with.

Don’t stuff it into your suit pocket especially the lower pockets as these pockets are seen to be for inferior and minor items, such as pens, car keys and tissues.

Even further after the exchange, you might want to follow-up on any issues from your meeting, by using the Business Card to further develop the relationship by e-mail or other meetings.

Concluding Remarks

If this article has helped to advance your understanding of the etiquette of exchanging Business Cards at your next audit or meeting, or you are looking for any further advice, please leave a comment in the box below, if this article has help you.

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