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Four Things to Know About Business Cards
Business cards should reflect how you want the public to see you: clean, crisp, and not covered in barbecue sauce. Read on to explore the traditions and etiquette behind them.
1. Less is more. Business cards should be simple, easy to read, and uncluttered. In most cases, your name, phone number, and e-mail address will suffice.
2. But there are exceptions. The Brooklyn Museum holds in its collection the card of one Hamad Hassab, which identified him as “having the distinction of being a survivor from the wreck of the Titanic.” In the 1980s, comic Steve Martin was in the habit of handing out cards that read: “This certifies that you have had a personal encounter with me and that you found me warm, polite, intelligent and funny.”
3. Standard-size business cards are 2”x 3.5”. Cards of unorthodox shapes and sizes—say a square or a full-size guitar—may grab attention, but they are harder to store in a wallet and may be more likely to get tossed. This size wasn’t always the norm: the first business cards were the size of playing cards and were used to announce a guest’s arrival upon entering someone’s home.
4. When someone hands you a card, don’t just shove it in your wallet. Instead, it’s good practice to look at the card for a moment as a sign of respect. And when you’re handing over a card to a new acquaintance, consider writing a brief note on the back as a reminder of what you were discussing. Etiquette varies by culture—in Japan, the exchange of business cards is a highly formalized process that begins with presenting your card face up with both hands.