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Tip 06: Master Chinese business card etiquette
02 June 2016
In China, your business card is your face.
More than a means of imparting personal details, business cards – or better known as 'name cards' in China (a direct translation of its Chinese name, "Míng Piàn" (名片) – are considered a representation of face and status in China.
That’s why Chinese business cards are always crammed with titles or awards that may elevate their status in the eyes of others. Besides ensuring they hold an impressive-looking business card, Chinese place much importance on business card etiquette when meeting someone for the first time as well.
We narrow down 10 do’s and don'ts for you to note the next time you’re set to meet a Chinese buyer:
Make sure you have enough business cards: Running out of cards could imply you're not professional or well-prepared, which reflects badly on your credibility and your ‘face’.
Keep your cards pristine: Handing out business cards that are worn-out, dog-eared, or smudged gives the impression that you are like your cards – careless, negligent, and not meticulous.
Make your business cards bilingual: Having one side of your business card in English and the other in Chinese not only makes it more China-friendly, but more memorable as well.
Ensure you use Simplified Chinese: China – as well as certain countries such as Malaysia and Singapore – uses Simplified Chinese, whereas Taiwan and Hong Kong uses Traditional Chinese.
Use both hands when exchanging your business card: This is a vital gesture of respect required when you both give and receive business cards.
Present your business card with thought: By presenting it on the Chinese side up, as well as with your name facing the recipient so he/she can read it easily, you are telling your Chinese buyers that you are perceptive and astute.
Ask people to pick up your business card from a stack on a table: This is considered rude and shows insincerity. Always, always hand out your business cards personally from individual to individual.
Immediately keep a business card upon receiving it: This portrays a lack of regard for the card owner. Instead, always make a show of a perusing the name, title, and company name before carefully tucking it away.
Carelessly shove other people’s business cards into your back pocket: Doing so smacks of disrespect, so be sure to keep their business cards carefully in a proper cardholder or card case.
Scribble or write on another person’s business card in his/her presence: This is rude and insulting to the card owner. If you must write additional information down, do so on your own business card (or do so discreetly when the card owner is not around).
With these 10 tips in mind, we hope you will master the art of giving and receiving business cards in China, and leave a good impression every time you meet a new Chinese client.