The Culture of Business Cards

International Business Card ExchangeIn American culture, we hand out business cards in a very casual manner with no ritual involved. Did you know that in other cultures, the process of distributing your business card can be filled with ritual and protocol? Which hand to use, making eye contact or bowing can indicate that you are aware of these rituals and protocols, highlighting you as someone familiar with diverse cultures in the workplace.

Typically, English is the language of business, so many business cards will have information written in English on one side. In countries where English isn’t the dominant language, it is common for information to be written in the local language as well. Business cards tend to be taken quite seriously in foreign countries, and are often quite elaborate. A good rule is to never bend, fold, or write on a business card! That alone can get you through most intercultural situations, but here are a couple of examples;

In China, the business card must have information written in Mandarin on the opposite side, and one must always use two hands to pass the card in an intentional manner. Then, look at the card and offer thanks. Never put the card in your back pocket or treat it with disrespect by writing on it.

In Russia, business cards are handed to everyone you come in contact with and should include your title and education. If possible, make sure to have your information written in Russian on the reverse side.

Overwhelmed? That seems reasonable, but nobody gets it right every time! As an MWCC student, you have access to many databases in the LaChance Library. One particular database that will help you navigate the business world in our increasingly global society is Global Warrior. Once you log into the library website and arrive at the Global Warrior by World Trade Press link, it is easy enough to click on a country and from there you will find the basic information on the left-hand side where you can choose from topics that range from business culture to climate, and everything in between.

Study abroad, whether face to face or virtual is a great opportunity to learn about the cultural differences in the workplace and we have many opportunities available to help you navigate the cultural divide in the workplace. Interested? Contact us or stop by the website for more information.