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The Etiquette of Business Cards

In the U.S., how you design and present your business card is an idiosyncratic, casual affair. But overseas, a simple exchange of cards can become an etiquette disaster, warns Neil Payne, founder of Kwintessential, a cross-cultural communications consultant in London. Here's how to avoid a blunder.


Your card must indicate status, although the actual exchange of cards will be casual. Your card should clearly state the year your company was founded and your title. "Eastern Europeans are very into hierarchy," says Payne.


Using lucky colors such as red and gold plays nicely. In a show of deference, give and receive cards with both hands and a slight bow. Take time to comment on the card, and don't write on it or shove it into a pocket—put it carefully into a card case.


Education is important in India, so highlight your alma mater (if applicable) and any educational honors earned. After shaking hands, use your right hand to exchange cards.

Back to BWSmallBiz June/July 2008 Table of Contents

Choi is a staff writer for BusinessWeek SmallBiz in New York.

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