The ease of technology has made it possible for even the smallest business owners to do business across international borders, and makes it so that dealing with foreign cultures at work is a commonplace thing. Businesses that are savvy about the other cultures they’re dealing with are going to be more successful in a global market, and this is true with business card etiquette. The way business cards are used and distributed varies somewhat between cultures, and it’s best to brush up on these differences before meeting with foreign clients.
Our neighbors to the far east are big contenders in the global market. Many businesses interact with people from countries like China, Japan and Korea every day. When meeting with foreign partners in person, remember that the way you present your business card to them will affect their first impression of you. Many of the rules surrounding business cards are similar across the board for these countries.
When meeting with people from these countries, present your card upon introduction, offering it to the highest ranking member of the group first, and working your way down. Present your business card with two hands, with your contact information printed in their language, face up.
In Chinese and Japanese cultures, it’s respectful to bow when presenting a business card. In Korea, a nod of the head is appropriate. When you receive a business card in this type of setting, take a moment to read the information on it before putting it away. In Japan, business cards are left on the table during meetings to help keep everyone straight.
Another common source of business partnering for Americans is India. English is the language used for business in India, so language barriers aren’t much of an issue, but there are still differences in culture. In India, business cards are handed out openly, even in non-business situations.
The card is usually presented at the time of shaking hands, or upon introduction. It’s customary to have your college degree, certifications, and any other honors printed on your business card in India. It’s also customary to present your business card with your right hand in India, and to have it print side up so the recipient can see all of your information right when they take it. This way, the recipient can quickly get to know your details as you begin conversation.
Taking the time to prepare for a business meeting with foreign associates will help you put your best foot forward for your company and build long lasting and lucrative business relationships. Taking note of simple things like business card etiquette will show you are prioritizing this meeting and working hard to make your associates feel comfortable.