As we become increasingly more social both online via social media as well as offline, the lines of business and personal have become a bit more blurred these days. Whether you own your own business, are a professional within a company or have just begun an Etsy shop to showcase your creations, it's important to know what's good business and what crosses the line,Having owned an Interior Decorating company for several years, I know firsthand the importance of networking and getting the word out about my company in order to continue to add new clients to my roster and gain valuable referrals. While it is important as an entrepreneur to make marketing a primary focus, there are times when mixing business with pleasure is just not appropriate.
Often times, while making conversation with someone we've just met, they'll politely ask about what we do for a living and follow-up with a few more interested questions. Sometimes this is just their way of carrying polite conversation and others times they may in fact be quite intrigued. If they really want your card though, they will ask. In the case of a specific business meeting or business networking event where one can expect to collect many cards over the course of the event, it's wise to arrive prepared to hand out several business cards (and always wise to keep a small box in your glove compartment of your car at all times-you never know who you might meet!) As such, you really can't go wrong by handing your card out to anyone who may seem like a potential fit as a customer or someone who you look to further connect with at a later date.
When receiving business cards from other, writing a little note to yourself on the card that will jog your memory later about a conversation you had or someone you both know in common, or perhaps an idea you both discussed will make things easier if you've receiving numerous cards over the course of the evening. Be sure to place them in a separate card case or somewhere the cards will not get bent. Try to avoid placing them in your back pocket, coat pocket or shoving them into your handbag. If I'm not at an event, I'll tuck it into my own business card holder or my wallet. This shows a bit more respect and assures that it won't get lost in the shuffle.
There are, however, a few specific instances when it would be considered poor taste to give out business cards. Personal events such as weddings, bridal showers, baby showers, baptisms, birthday parties, dinner parties just to name a few. Any time you are invited to these types of events, your sole focus should be the guest(s) of honor while having fun and mingling with those you've never met before. Choosing to sell yourself at these kinds of private events can make others feel uncomfortable and can make the host or guest of honor feel as though you have ulterior motives for attending.
Giving out a business card when it hasn't been requested can make you appear a bit pushy, overbearing or an opportunist. Besides, if you've invested in quality stationery and business cards, you'll probably want to hold on a bit tighter and not just hand them out to everyone you meet, reserving them for those who truly have interest or mention they know of someone who could benefit from your products or services.
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As always, some of our best conversations happen in the comments below! I'd love to hear your own experiences. Have you ever attended a personal event where someone went overboard trying to sell you on their company?
Thanks for reading!