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It’s staggering how many people attend business parties at this time of year and forget to take their business cards.

I attended a launch for a book on leadership last week. Eighteen people asked me for my card. When I asked for their card in return seventeen shrugged and made excuses and went off to borrow scraps of paper from the waiter to write down their own information. Only one managed to find a card.

Treat It with Respect

We can learn a lot from Japanese business card rituals. The first thing that Japanese business men and women do is exchange cards, and the key to what follows can be summed up
in one word: respect. Accept the card as if it were a gift—which it is. Hold it with both hands and take a moment to study what’s written on it. If you can, respond to the card with an interested comment or an observation about something on the card—the person’s title, credentials, location. What you have to understand is that a business card isn’t just someone’s name on a piece of paper; it’s their corporate identity. Treat it with the respect the person deserves.

I’ve attended more corporate functions and more business conferences than I can remember. And over and over again, I see men and women taking someone’s business card (when they remember to bring them), flipping it over with barely a glance at what it says, and begin taking notes on the back. Never write on someone’s business card in front of them. If you feel you absolutely have to note something from your conversation and you don’t have a pad, ask them if they mind. It’s good manners, and they’ll appreciate the gesture.

When all this ceremony is done, put the card away in a top pocket, your purse, or your wallet—somewhere that shows respect. Never put the card in your back pocket, where it will get sat on.

Apart from taking them with you, if you need a reminder of the top five things to do to be smarter socially click here.

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