After multiple email exchanges, you have finally succeeded in organizing a meeting in China with a large potential client. What should you do and know about business cards?
As you have been told, business cards have become elements of a ceremonial in Asia, and you should be ready for it.
First, it is a good idea to get a double-sided business card, with English on one side and good Chinese translation on the other (simplified for China and Singapore, traditional for Hong Kong and Taiwan).
Now comes the time to hand it over. Remember to place the Chinese side on top and to have the characters face the other person, so that they can read it easily. Stand up, bend slightly toward the other person, use thumb and index fingers of each hand to hold the corners, make eye contact and present your card slowly. This will convey respect.
When you receive the business card from the other person, use a similar gesture by holding two corners for a few seconds before accepting the card. Show interest by reading the card (providing that it is printed in English), and commenting on the position or repeating the name.
It is also a good idea to store your cards in a business card case. This way, your card won’t be stained, bent or torn, which would be a disaster.
You can also store there the cards you receive, to show respect, instead of shoving them into your pocket. If you don’t have a card holder, just place the card on the table next to you, and make sure you don’t forget it when you leave!
Finally, you should have understood by now the level of formality associated to business cards. But just in case, never ever distribute your cards at a table as if you were dealing cards in a casino, and never write any comments on the other person’s card!