Doing business in a country which is not our native land can present challenges that we may not consider when working in our home territory. We may be unaware of differing aspects of local culture and the accompanying nuances which can make the difference between a deal made or a deal broken. Typically these cultural differences represent value systems and behavioural norms. Although our foreign clients and colleagues are inclined to forgive our breaches of etiquette if they are aware that they are a product of our ignorance, it is far better to demonstrate that we have studied their culture and have made an effort to learn their customs. Bumbling through meetings and meals never puts the best face on either our personal image or that of the companies we may be representing.
Business card etiquette should be the first area of study as it may be your first or last chance to make and impression. In some countries the proffering of business cards is merely an information exchange, as in the United States or Europe but in many Asian countries the way in which you present your card may convey far greater meaning. Below are some tips for politely presenting your calling card abroad.
In Japan the exchange of cards, like many Japanese customs is ceremonial in nature;
– Make sure that your cards are in good condition. Make an investment in good quality cards.
– Be sure to include your title since your status will be noted by your foreign friends.
– Business cards may be given with one hand but must be received with two.
– Cards given to you should be placed in front of you at a meeting in the seating order of the attendees. Carefully stow them in your portfolio when the meeting ends.
In China –
– Your card should be offered with both hands.
– It is most important to have your card translated into the appropriate Chinese dialect. Gold ink is preferred and your own or your company’s status is an important inclusion.
– Never write on a business card unless it is requested.
In India –
– Your educational level is a statistic of prime importance, so it should be noted on your card.
– Business cards should only be received with the right hand.
– Remember that English is widely spoken here so you need not translate your card.
Also notable are some universal etiquette tips for business card presentment which are acceptable worldwide:
– If you have translated your card into the recipient’s language on one side, always present that side face up.
– Business cards are usually exchanged upon initial contact or after your first meeting has ended.
– Reading another’s business card is always advisable for the purpose of conversation and information clarification.
Following these simple guidelines for presenting your calling card will enhance both your comfort and that of your overseas business contacts.