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Where to place a business card?

Since posting about international business card etiquette, I have read more about different culture’s practices. One site discusses business etiquette in Australia and I couldn’t resist seeing what they advice non-Australians. They wrote:

Business cards are often used in business dealings, but Australians don’t fuss about them. It is acceptable to hand over and receive a business card with one hand. It is good practice to put your counterpart’s business card on the table during the meeting, although some people will put it straight in their pocket.

It got me thinking – should a business card go on the table or into a pocket?

Obviously, if you are at a stand-up networking event, there is no table so cards go into a pocket (or bag or diary). And if you receive a card in passing, a pocket is appropriate.

Personally, if I am in a meeting and receive some business cards I leave them on the table in front of me, face up. Not only is it a good reminder of people’s names and titles, I think it shows respect that I value their card enough to keep it in sight. In those same meetings, I have seen people leave cards on the table and others place cards in holders of their document folder (so they could still see the cards but were also protecting them), and that does feel better than seeing my card go into a pocket (sometimes without even a glance).

I think it may be different at a meal-based networking event, though. In that case, I often put the card straight into a pocket to protect it from food spills and being lost amongst the dishes and table paraphernalia. Sometimes, I hold the card for a while as I talk to the person sitting next to me – it makes me more familiar with the card and the person, plus I think it is respectful to listen as they talk rather than fiddling with cards and pockets/bags/card holders.

Where do you place business cards as you receive them at a table? Is this habit or have you consciously decided to do it that way?

Use your words wisely!

15 Responses to Where to place a business card?

  • In my opinion it doesn’t matter if you put it on the table or in the pocket.

    I think it’s better to take the business card (with a friendly smile on your face), look at it, say something good about it like “Printed on recycled paper? Cool” or “Very creative business card design” and then either place it in your business card holder or in the jacket pocket.

    That’s how I would do it.

    But exchanging business cards is an interesting topic. I’ve seen a few times when people who probably printed their first business card bunch hand each other awkwardly the cards with silly lost smiles on their faces. And their whole body-language is saying just how unconfident they are.
    It was awkward just watching them.

  • Nathan Cain says:

    I usually enter the person’s phone number into my cell phone’s address book in front of the person and then put the card in my wallet.

  • tashword says:

    Yes, those first few cards when you are new in business can be hard to manage 🙂

  • tashword says:

    That is an interesting approach Nathan – a great way to not lose their phone number (and other details if you can enter them into your phone, too) and shows you want to keep their details.

    Do people seem to mind the time it takes you to enter those details?

  • Melissa says:

    Rather than put them in my pocket, I put them in the back of my business card holder – that way they are kept nice & I’m less likely to lose them (or the kids pinching them!). At a function where there is a table & no food, I also put them in front of me as it helps me remember the person name.

  • tashword says:

    I sometimes put the cards straight into a card holder, too, Melissa. But at other times I put them somewhere easier to access and then transfer them to a card holder as I leave the event.

    Even with their own cards, some people don’t seem to mind cards that are screwed up or dirty from being in a pocket! It’s not a good look!

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  • I’m in the ‘leave it on the table’ camp – as long as there is no food involved. I’m horrible with names though so I almost have to do this so I don’t make an idiot of myself. 🙂

  • tashword says:

    Working with a known weakness is a great skill Amanda 🙂

  • Connor Campbell says:

    A very professional looking business card is really very important in promoting your business. It makes good impression among customers.*~;

  • tashword says:

    You’re right, Connor, a professional business card is important – but is it just as important to treat cards well? Would you put a card you receive on a table, in a pocket or somewhere else?

  • you can always create great business cards by just using adobe photoshop and some other photoediting tools

    • tashword says:

      Afraid I can’t fully agree with you on that Ed – many people just don’t have the design knowledge or skills to make a great business card as there’s more to it than just adding a name and phone number. It is even harder to make it work as part of an entire brand.

      However, getting back to my post, where do you place business cards as you receive them, Ed?

  • Georgetta Almestica says:

    Giving a blog talk to beginner bloggers in the not-too-distant future, I’ll be pointing people in the direction of your efforts. Nicely put together dude.

  • Dana says:

    I think it’s good etiquette to hold on to the card while talking to the person. It gives them a sense of comfort that you are acknowledging their presence.

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