Business Card Etiquette

In business & life we use business cards.  They are an important tool used the correct way. The information on these cards is needed for us to connect and continue communicating after we meet someone new.


However, in my experience most people don’t use business cards properly.

Here is how I have seen them used incorrectly (& I admit I used to do some of this myself)

  • Hand out business cards to anyone who will accept one, with no intended purpose
  • Give out two or three and ask the person to share them with others
  • Once we get a business card, cold them and nag them to meet and talk business
  • When handed a business card we shoved them in our pockets and disregarded the content on the card
  • Pile the business cards on the desk until you can get back to them


I decided years ago that there is a more appropriate way to work with business cards. Here is my process:

  1. I ask for a business card only when there is a clear reason for next steps of communicating.
  2. I give my business card to someone else only when there is, again, a clear reason for next steps of communicating.
  3. I will give my card to someone who asks, even if there is no clear reason because I don’t want them to think I am rude. I can’t change the world.
  4. When I get a business card, this is what I do with it:
    1. I hold the business card in my hand until I complete my conversation with the person who gave it to me. (It helps me to remember the person’s name and to see other information that I can use in the conversation)
    2. I put the card in my pocket only after I have left the presence of the person who gave it to me.
    3. When I get to my office I put all of the contact information into my Contact list. This way I always have their full contact info and can share it with others as needed & relevant.
    4. I email the person who gave me their card and thank them for the conversation or meeting that we had. Where relevant, I ask for next steps conversations.
    5. I search for the person on LinkedIn and if they have a LinkedIn Profile, I send a relevant LinkedIn Connection Request.
    6. I then throw the card away (actually I have a bucket that I save them in. I don’t need the card any longer.)

I believe that Business Cards are a great way to share contact information, only when connecting is important. They are expensive and dolling them out like candy is just wasteful.

Don’t be like everyone else and just toss your cards around town with no specific and clear reason. Be unique. Be different. Be better than the average person.

Author: tlburriss

I am a Networking Strategist and LinkedIn coach and Trainer. I live by my personal edict, "Networking is finding, developing and nurturing relationships that mutually move people forward thru life." I want to help people become better Networkers and better LinkedIn users focused on their business and career goals.