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Business Card Etiquette
Whole books could be (and
indeed have been) written about business practices in South East Asia and the
correct methods of exchanging business cards. A quick search on the
internet will provide you with hundreds of sites offering information
about proper Japanese business etiquette, what to do and what not to do in China, and 101 ways to succeed in Korea.
Whilst some of
this information is undoubtedly useful, we believe that it is not
necessary for the Western businessman to fully understand and practice all
the complicated rituals of exchanging business cards, as long as the basic
rules are followed:
- Exchange business cards at the beginning
of your meeting: consider it as part of your greeting when you first
meet your Asian counterparts.
- Bow slightly and present your business card with both hands, the non-English side up.
- You should receive
other people's business cards the same way: with both hands, bowing slightly.
- Study the other person's card for while,
making a mental note of their name, and then put it away in a card
holder. Alternatively, if there are a number of members present in
your meeting, you can lay all the cards out on the table in
front of you and leave them there until the end of the meeting.
- Do not pass your business cards out
as though you are dealing a deck of playing cards.
- Do not take someone's business card,
give it a cursory glance, and then stuff it away in your pocket
to refer to later.
- Do not keep taking people's business cards
out to check their names. It is worth tryinig to remember their name when they give you
their card: it is insulting if people cannot even remember your name
when they are doing business with you.
- Do not play or fiddle with people's business cards
- treat them with respect. A Western businessman once famously lost a
big deal for picking his teeth with one of his colleagues' business
cards, and was never given the opportunity to do business with the
- Do not write on people's business cards (at least, not in front of them): it is considered a direct insult.