I think this really serves a universal purpose beyond startups and encompasses generic corporate life as well.
Business card etiquette has become one of those things that we take for granted and are often brought up in obscure circles of startup life where a company is effectively trying to get rid of the business card model in its entirety. After which there is typically a retort that emphasizes the cultural norms that arise when we actually exchange something tangible. Doesn’t really matter much how you do it, there are a few things that we should all abide by.
1. Business cards are your face
Ugly cards are a huge turn off. I love our business cards and we still buy them. We use heavy stock to distinguish the card. This point doesn’t really need much elaboration:
Ugly and Flimsy < Well-Designed and Firm
2. Make sure your contact information is clear
There’s only one reason that business cards are exchanged: to see if both sides can mutually benefit from a collaboration in the future. If your contact information is hard to find, it kind of defeats the purpose. While we love all social media as well as affiliations, personally, I would like to know how to email you.
3. Don’t give it out if you don’t want to be contacted
There are easy and professional ways to avoid giving out business cards to those you would rather not have contact you (potentially a stalker or serial emailer). An easy one is that you don’t have any more. Sometimes I run into the opposite issue; I never carry enough and have to handwrite my contact information. This is another big no-no.
4. Don’t assume someone wants it
On my way out of a gathering, someone was waiting to talk to me and I (like a jacka$$) automatically assumed that this person would want my business card because I had something so profound to say that they would email me. He asked me why I was handing him a business card after which I was thoroughly taken aback and began to stutter an explanation. He coolly explained that he wanted to talk to me. He didn’t want my business card. So there you have it. Don’t assume everyone wants it.
5. If you expressly ask for my card, email me about something
If I just hand it to you, it’s tough to reject, but if you asked for it, email me about something that you would like to work with me on. Save trees, ’nuff said.
By Sang Lee