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

In different cultures, the practice of handing out business cards varies. What applies in the happy-go-lucky United States might not apply in the traditional Asian countries of Japan and China. In fact, even the color and design of business card holders play an important role when 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 put them in your pocket or wallet, without even looking at them! However, if you want to make a better impression, you can follow certain things.

– You should take out your business card holder and hand over your business cards only when requested by the other person or if you are involved in a business discussion.

– You have to refrain from asking for a card from a person of higher rank unless that person asks for your card first or if you were presented by a third party.

– You have to respect someone’s card as much as you want your card to be respected by the other person. You have to read and study the letter, even for a moment. Wait until you can get rid of it discreetly, if you want to.

China tied to tradition

When you are in China, or in Japan, you must 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). We recommend that you consult reputable translation companies to ensure that your cards meet local cultural standards.

Your double-sided business cards are necessary because it would be weird and awkward to have two separate business card holders with you at all times!

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

– You have to give and receive business cards with both hands outstretched.

– You have to hold the card for a while or place the cards on the table. You have to avoid immediately putting the cards inside the card holders so they don’t see you as rude.

– You have to present the cards according to the state, being the highest ranking personalities the first priority in the delivery of your card. Do your research first before going to a meeting.

– You have to avoid too much white in your card holders and business cards. White is the color of mourning; you’ll do better with red cards.

big in japan

Like the Chinese, the Japanese treat business cards with respect. We recommend that you avoid typical American chutzpah in this area if you want to seal the deal. You must also hand out double-sided business cards in Japan. Here are some more tips:

– When receiving and handing out business cards, you should do so with both hands and bow slightly while doing so.

– As in China, be sure to present the card with the Japanese side facing up so that the recipient can read it immediately without turning it over.

– You have to study the cards, make a mental note of the names, and then you can put them in the card holders. Or better yet, put all the cards on the table so you can tell who is who, especially during a first meeting.

Just remember all of this and you’ll be fine in both Asian and American settings.

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