Business Card Etiquette – 7 Useful Tips

Printing business cards continue to be an essential part of your networking toolbox. As technology continues to evolve, we don’t have to worry about the business card becoming obsolete.

When asked, 72% of people say that they judge a company on their business card.

They are such an integral part of our day-to-day activities that many people don’t think much about them beyond their initial design. Business cards continue to be a powerful and affordable marketing tool that will get people to remember you and your business.

However, there are a few tricks of the trade – some rules about etiquette – when it comes to giving and receiving a premium business card. It doesn’t matter how well you are dressed or how many conferences you attend if you can’t do this properly.

What is Etiquette?

Let’s take a look and get the official definition listed by It’s the customary code of polite behavior in society among members of a particular profession or group.

Now we know the correct definition of etiquette. Next, what exactly is business card etiquette?

Business Card Etiquette

It’s professionally representing yourself and your business. When exchanging business cards, the etiquette is to swap at the beginning or the end of an initial meeting. When this occurs, you offer the business card face up to the recipient. Once received, make sure to look over the card, comment on it (design, colors, logo, etc.), and clarify the information (contact number, email, etc.) before putting the card away.

Study shows that within the first seven-second meeting someone, they will have a reliable opinion of who you are. Other research suggests that a tenth of a second is all it takes to identify traits like trustworthiness.

When it comes to business card etiquette, there are a few rules and guidelines. Below we’ve listed a few that you should keep in mind when exchanging your business card.

Don’t Run Out

Whether you’re attending a conference, trade show, meeting, or business outing, it’s necessary to always have cards with you. A business card represents you and your brand! The rule of thumb, always take a few more cards than you think you’ll need. It’s still hard to estimate how many people you’ll meet, and it’s always embarrassing to meet someone important after you’ve already handed out your meager stack of cards.

Business Tip: Place a handful of cards in your car, gym bag, wallet; you never know when you will have an opportunity to exchange cards.

If you are going to a networking event or trade show, don’t be afraid to take a small stack of them with you. (three or four is not enough). There is no magic number; play it safe and bring more that you intend to hand out. There is nothing worse than having to tell someone you ran out before you got to them or having to jot down your email address on a random piece of paper. These types of handwritten notes are always the first to be thrown away or lost. Plus, it’s not professional.

If planning on attending a networking event or tradeshow, create a custom business card specifically for that event. Design each card geared for the audience attending the events. That way, you can track leads and know exactly where you met the individuals. When designing your card, include a QR code and use UTM codes to track your cards’ success.

Not familiar with UTM codes? HubSpot provided a blog that proved tips on how to create UTM codes to track your URLs.

Be Prepared

Make sure that you can easily grab your card. You want to be prepared and confident once someone asks for your card. Keep them close to you for easy access. It looks less professional when you’re going through your pockets or bag searching for your card. Be prepared! You never know when you will need them and meet a future client or business partner.

Keep Them Updated

An out-of-date card is obsolete. There is no reason to give out your card if you have to say, “Oh, my phone number and address have changed.” Make sure all information, especially contact information, is 100% current. The business card is a representation of you and your business. Please do not cross out the wrong information and edit with a pen. It’s just not worth it, purchase new cards with accurate information. For example, you can get 100 Matte business cards for $16.

Also, keep the business card design updated and relevant. If your card hasn’t been updated in ten years, it may be time to consider freshening it up a bit. If you need help with a custom design, whether it’s updating a current design or a completely new design and logo, our in-house design team will be happy to bring your idea to life!

Keep them in a Card Case

Never hand someone a wrinkled card, torn, or has a little drop of ketchup from your lunch. Storing your cards in a particular case keeps them in mint condition. If it looks like you don’t care much about the card, why should anyone else? It also looks bad for you and your business. You can find some cool and creative custom business card holders on Etsy.

Reciprocate Interest

When someone asks for yours, ask for theirs in return. If you reciprocate interest in another’s business, it can do a great deal for your reputation. Even if you aren’t 100% sure you need the other person’s card, ask for it anyway. Accept the business card in the same way the person offers it to you.

Make a Comment

When someone gives you their card, comment on it, do a brief scan of the card and pick one point that is worth mentioning. Tell them how much you like their business logo. Compliment their great tagline. Do your best to make a sincere comment that shows you are genuinely interested in them. This is a simple courtesy and can encourage others to reciprocate the interest in you.

Make Sure to Follow Up

If you were given someone’s card, make it a point to follow-up with them. You don’t have to schedule a dinner with everyone you met, but you should make some type of connection. After a networking conference or even a small business interaction, send an email, send a thank you card or make a phone call to see if this is a relationship worth pursuing. Business connections are only as useful as the effort you put into them, and following up is the best way to get the most value out of your new cards.

Follow the below to leave a favorable impression.

Things to Do:

  • Always have plenty of cards on hand.
  • Use your right hand to pass and receive the cards.
  • Mirror the individual. What does that mean? If they hand you a card with two hands, you’ll want to accept it with two hands.
  • Look over the card and show interest.
  • Place the card in a case to show respect for the business card.

Things Not to Do:

  • Hand a card that is damaged
  • Don’t just hand out a card because you can. Example: leaving them on several tables throughout a tradeshow or event. They aren’t flyers!
  • Don’t force a card on anyone. Wait until someone asks for your card.
  • Keep from handing them the card early in the conversation. See if the conversation goes well to determine to swap cards.
  • When you received a card, don’t throw it away or place it on a table.
    Don’t take notes on their card during the conversation.

Understanding business card etiquette is one way to ensure that you leave a positive impression and grow your business when introduced.


Kevin is the SEO and Content Manager at Primoprint. He has more than ten years of SEO experience and an extensive background with-in the Marketing industry. He works closely with the entire Primoprint staff to focus on creating engaging and informative content regarding the print industry. When he's not working, you can find him exploring new places in and around North Carolina. Kevin is a big fan of craft beers, grilling, and watching sporting events.