Etiquette for business cards – order of giving and receiving

2019-05-31 MANNER , WORK

This post is also available in 日本語

There are wide differences in the concept and manner to use business cards between Japan and foreign countries.

In the business scene in Japan, Business cards are exchanged at the first meeting and are considered to be the ‘face’ of the person. It might be a very crucial time to decide the first impression.

You may feel uneasy to adhere to the many manners of Japanese way of exchanging business cards. But, you need not to worry.  We show you here how to ‘cordially present and cordially receive’, the very basic manner.

How to present and receive business cards

Put your business cards in a card case

You must put your business cards in a card case which you carry. You can’t substitute by a pocket notebook or a wallet. It is absolutely not acceptable to use stained or creased card.

[Don’t panic]
When you put cards, at least 10 copies, in the card holder, make sure they are in right alignment. If you forget or become short of cards, you must apologize saying, “I’m sorry. I have run out of cards.” Soon after you return to the company, you have to send your business card with an apology letter.

Prepare your business card to be presented

The meeting begins with exchanging cards when you haven’t seen the other party before. As the exchange is done while you are standing, you have to stand up if you have been sitting, only the card case in your hand, leaving the briefcase.

[Don’t panic]
When you are meeting with multiple people, prepare the same number of cards pulled out from the case beforehand. If you hold them below the case all aligned in the same direction, it’ll be easier to present them one after another.

Present a card with both hands

Place one card on the case, the face being directed in your counterpart’s direction, and hold it at your chest level with both hands. Then present the card holding the lower corner with your thumbs and index fingers.
At the same time you must state your company name, section name, your title and your full name with no abbreviation. Then you must say, ‘It’s nice to meet you. Thank you.”

[Don’t panic]
You must stand straight, bowing slightly to introduce yourself in clear and audible tone.

Receive in both hands

If your counterpart is giving his name while presenting his business card, you must listen to him carefully. Then, receive his card with both hands placing your thumbs and index fingers at corners of this end. At the same time, you must say, “Thank you very much.”

[Don’t panic]
You need to avoid placing your fingers on the company logo, name and the person’s name. When you are not of the counterpart’s name because you can’t read kanji on the card or couldn’t hear clearly, you may confirm by asking, “May I have your name once more?”

Exchanging cards simultaneously

These days, many people exchange business cards simultaneously with the other person.

In this case, you have your card in your right hand and the card case in left. Then, put out your card to a little lower position than your counterpart’s card.

You receive his card on top of your card case and when your right hand become free, put it to the edge of his card, saying,” Thank you very much.”

[Don’t panic]
The reason for put out your business card at a little lower level than his is to show your respect to the other. However, what if he extends his arm lower than yours? Then, you accept his card saying, “Please pardon me.” It is fine as long as the other understands that you tried to be humble.

The order of exchange-who receives first

Generally, a junior person gives his card first. When you are receiving money or business from the other, you are in an inferior position even when you are visiting.

When you exchange business cards with multiple person, you need to begin from the senior counterpart and move on in order of their positions, as shown in the illustration below.

[Don’t panic]
If you’re accompanying your boss, you can just follow him. When you are alone, you need to start exchanging cards with their most senior person.

What to do with cards you have received

Never to put away the card into the case immediately. When you take your seat, you must place the received card on top of the card case on the table in such a way that you can read the name on it.

If there are multiple person, leaving the card of the most senior person on your card case and place other cards in the order of their seating.

There is one important manner you should know. That is not to write anything on the received business card in front of the other person. You want to write some memo, you should do so upon your return to your office.

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