Business card etiquette in Japan, China, and the United States

Business card etiquette in Japan, China, and the United States

In different cultures, the practice of handing out business cards is different. What applies in the free United States may not apply in the tradition-bound Asian countries of Japan and China. In fact, even the color and design of your business cards play an important role in doing business in these countries!

Liberal United States

When dealing with other Americans, you’ll notice that business cards are treated liberally. You can just slip them into your pocket or wallet without even looking at them! However, if you want to make a better impression, there are some things you can follow.

– You should only take out your business card and hand out your business cards when the other person asks you to or if you are engaged in a business discussion.
– You must refrain from requesting a card from a person of higher rank unless that person first requests your card or you have been introduced by a third party.
– You should respect someone’s card as you want your card to be respected by the other person. You should read and study the map, if only for a moment. Wait until you can dispose of it discreetly if you wish to do so.

Tradition-bound China

When in China, or in Japan for that matter, you should carry double-sided business cards at all times. One side should have information in English, while the other side should have information in Chinese (or Japanese). It is recommended that you consult with reputable translation companies to ensure that your maps meet local cultural standards.

Your double sided cards are necessary because it would be weird and cumbersome to have two separate business cards with you all the time!

When exchanging business cards, always remember these guidelines to show your respect:

– You should give and receive business cards with outstretched hands.
– You have to either hold the card for a while or put the cards on the table. You should avoid immediately putting the cards in your business cards so that you don’t come across as rude.
– You must present cards according to status, with higher ranking individuals having priority in dealing your card. Do your research first before going on a date.
– You should avoid too much white in your business cards. White is the color of mourning; you will do better with red cards.

Big in Japan

Like the Chinese, the Japanese treat business cards with respect. You’d be well advised to avoid typical American brashness in this area if you want to close the deal. In Japan, you must also hand out double-sided business cards. Here are some more pointers:

– When receiving and giving business cards, you should do so with both hands and bow slightly while doing so.
– As in China, make sure you present the card with its Japanese side so that the recipient can read it immediately without having to turn the card over.
– You need to study the cards, memorize the names and then you can put away the business card holders. Or better yet, lay all the cards on the table so you can tell who’s who, especially on a first date.

Just remember all this and you will feel good in both Asian and American environments.

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